report: ‘Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth’

A 2010 radio show and 2011 longitudinal study on heightened vulnerability for those in and those leaving the foster care system. The study looks at (in Social Role Valorization terms) heightened vulnerability to devaluation and wounding in various life domains related to home, education, work, family, safety, health, income, etc. These reports indicate in part at least the profound vulnerability of those who are significantly societally devalued and who lose or are denied key valued social roles at a young and formative age. Among the common wounding life experiences discussed are life-defining rejection, being cast into devalued roles, physical and social distantiation, loss of control, loss of relationships, financial and experiential impoverishment, and neglect.

One excerpt from the executive summary report for young adults (ages 23-24) formerly in the foster care system:

At the time of their wave 4 interview, 49 percent of the young adults in the Midwest Study were living in their “own place,” and 21 percent were living with their biological parents or other relatives. Sixteen percent of the male study participants were incarcerated. Since exiting foster care, over two-thirds of the young adults in the Midwest Study had lived in at least three different places, including 30 percent who had lived in five or more places. Even more concerning, 24 percent of these young adults had ever been homeless, 28 percent had ever couch surfed, and 37 percent had ever been homeless or couch surfed since exiting foster care. One-half of the young people who had been homeless had been homeless more than once. Repeated episodes of couch surfing were  even more common, with two-thirds of the young people who had couch surfed having done so on more  than one occasion.


An excerpt from the executive summary report for young adults (age 21) formerly in the foster care system:

Previous research suggests that foster youth approach the transition to  adulthood with significant educational deficits (Blome, 1997; Courtney et  al., 2001; McMillan & Tucker, 1999), and these deficits seem to continue  into the early adult years. Nearly one-quarter of the young adults in the  Midwest Study did not have a high school diploma or a GED by age 21 compared with just 11 percent of their Add Health peers. Conversely, only 30 percent of the Midwest Study young adults had completed any college compared with 53 percent of the young adults in Add Health. Although just 2 percent of the young adults in the Midwest Study had even a two-year degree, only one-quarter were currently enrolled in school compared with 44 percent of their Add Health counterparts. Among those who were enrolled, young adults in the Midwest Study were more likely to  be enrolled in a two-year college (56% vs. 25%) but less likely to be enrolled in a  four-year college (28% vs. 71%) than young adults in Add Health.


An excerpt from the executive summary of the report on those young persons about to leave the foster care system:

Most of the rest of the youth indicated that they reside in group care/residential treatment centers and independent living arrangements. About four-fifths of the youth reported having a sibling in out-of-home care. Of youth with siblings in care, 23.6 percent reported living with at least one sibling, however only 5.1 percent reported living with all of their biological siblings in the current household.  Most youth experienced considerable instability while living in out-of-home  care. For example, with respect to foster home placements, one-quarter of youth reported only one placement whereas over one-quarter experienced five or more. About two-thirds of all respondents had lived in at least one group home, residential treatment center, or child-caring institution. Less than one-quarter reported only one placement and about 14 percent had four or more. Nearly one half reported having run away from out-of-home care and nearly two-thirds of those who did run away did so on multiple occasions. Over one-quarter reported having wanted, at some point, to be adopted, and the same number had previously been in a placement in which the plan was for their foster parent to adopt them.

Marc Tumeinski

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 8:34 am by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , ,

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  1. Written by Bob Flynn
    on March 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm
    · Permalink

    Marc Tumeinski has provided a very useful introduction to the major longitudinal study by Mark Courtney (and his colleagues at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago) on the developmental outcomes, positive and begative, experienced by a large sample of young people in several Midwestern states in the US who have left the out-of-home care system. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Mark Courtney for the last 8 yars as a member of an international research group composed of people from 16 countries who are attempting to promote social policies that will improve the resilient outcomes of young people making the transition from the child weflare system to young adulthood. We are using the Courtney transition model in a new project (2012-2014) in Eastern Ontario that Raymond Lemay and several of his child welfare collegaues have made possible. I think SRV has much to offer to and learn from child welfare research, practice, and policy, as both areas are fundamentally oriented to reducing risk and enhancing resilience in vulnerable people.

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