151439 Aging out of foster care: Strategies for supporting adolescents as they transition into adulthood

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 8:30 AM

Justeen Hyde, PhD , Institute for Community Health, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, MA
Adolescents “aging out” of foster care comprise a population of great concern for local child welfare providers, advocates and policy makers. Previous studies have demonstrated that adolescents who age out of foster care face enormous challenges in the transition to adulthood and are at high risk for a number of negative health outcomes. Efforts to better prepare adolescents for adulthood through policy and programmatic enhancements are underway in many states. Although they are primary recipients of local child welfare services, few efforts have been made to obtain and incorporate input from adolescents into programmatic and policy changes. The proposed presentation is based on a qualitative study conducted with 30 adolescents, ages 16-18, living in out-of-home placements in Massachusetts. The purpose of the study is to learn more about the experiences of adolescents in out-of-home placements, including factors that have been helpful while in placement, areas in need of improvement, and recommendations for supporting adolescents aging out of care. Methods include three qualitative interviews conducted with each participant over a six-month period. The presentation will highlight salient themes in participants' understandings of why they entered out-of-home placements and the benefits and challenges of being in substitute care. Policy recommendations for improving services for adolescents will be presented. Recommendations include greater participation of adolescents in case planning and placement decisions, placement stability, clear and consistent communication regarding individual expectations and goals, and increases in the provision of family-based services and supports. Findings will be useful for informing aging out services for adolescents.

Learning Objectives:
To identify several policy recommendations for improving individual and family-based services for adolescents involved with the child welfare system. To describe a method for obtaining input from adolescents in out-of-home placements that can be used to inform improvements in “aging out” services. To illustrate the benefits and challenges of working with child welfare services to obtain input from adolescents in out-of-home placements.

Keywords: Adolescents, Advocacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.