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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing
5004.0: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 - Board 8

Abstract #157576

Aging Out of Foster Care: Homelessness and Mental Health Implications S/A

Patrick Fowler, MA1, Bart Miles, PhD, MSW2, and Paul Toro, PhD1. (1) Psychology, Wayne State University, 5057 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, (2) School of Social Work, Wayne State University, 4756 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, (313) 577-4434, bmiles@wayne.edu

This study estimated the prevalence of homelessness experienced by “aged out” foster youth, and the impact of housing experiences on current mental health. Aging out refers to leaving foster care due to achieving the legal age of majority. Federal guidelines mandate youth to exit foster care by age 21, while many states including Michigan require youth to do so at age 18. Problematically, few services exist to assist youth transition to independence. The present study followed-up 264 aged out adolescents from the Detroit metropolitan area who aged out within 3.5 years on average. Results indicate 49% of adolescents experienced homelessness since exit. This included 17% of youth who literally lived on the streets for an average of 30 days and another 32% who were precariously housed for 13 months on average. Analyses compared adolescent responses on a nationally normed self-report of emotional distress by housing group. Compared to 33% of continuously housed adolescents, 61% of precariously housed and 66% of literally homeless aged out youth reported clinical elevations on psychological problems. Multivariate Analyses of Covariance suggested precariously housed and literally homeless adolescents reported significantly greater emotional problems across symptom dimensions; however, greatest differences existed on severe psychological problems, including psychotic and paranoid ideation, on which average scores of precariously housed and literally homeless fell above clinical cutoffs. Findings demonstrate the need for improved public and programmatic foster care policy to assist teens transition out of the system.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Homelessness, Child/Adolescent Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Issues Related to the Design, Implementation, and Effectiveness of Health Services for Homeless Populations

The 135th APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 3-7, 2007) of APHA