Date of Graduation

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department/Program

International and Multicultural Education

First Advisor

Betty Taylor

Second Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Third Advisor

Emma Fuentes

Abstract

Studies show that African American children enter foster care at a higher rate and remain in foster care longer. The numbers of Black children in foster care increases in any given year. Studies found that even when controlling for risk and poverty, race affects the decision of whether to provide services or remove children from their families. Although poverty may serve as an indicator of risk, when race is included, it changes the decision threshold.

African American women who aged out of foster care and are living self - sustaining lives are small in number and there is an absence of research on their experiences after leaving care. Although there is a plethora of research on the disproportionate overrepresentation of African American children in the child welfare system, there is a dearth of research on adult women who are leading productive lives despite the challenges of having been in foster care.

Studies show that adolescent girls lack the skills to navigate their independence after emancipation, become pregnant, and end up on welfare, thereby continuing a cycle of Child Protective Service involvement for their own child(ren). Some girls resort to prostitution or gang involvement as a means to earn money to support themselves. In California, 67% of females who emancipated from the child- welfare system had at least one child within 5 years of leaving care. Although the statistics show poor outcomes for adolescent girls after leaving care, this study hopes to provide a picture of different outcomes.

This study examined factors that influenced the motivation, perseverance, and development of life-sustaining skills and personal and interpersonal influences associated with subjective well-being after emancipating from foster care, and the accomplishment of educational goals. The results of the study found that positive mother-child relationships, support from trusted adults, independence, and self- reliance contributed to motivation to persevere. Additional findings included the determination to improve one's life and perceived achievement of goals despite adversities, contributing to subjective well-being in adulthood. Recommendations suggested the inclusion of foster youth in the decisions made for them, prioritizing their needs prior to placement with relatives.

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