Publication date: October 2019
Source: Journal of Adolescence, Volume 76
Author(s): Fanita A. Tyrell, Ana K. Marcelo, Duyen T. Trang, Tuppett M. Yates
Ethnic-racial identity (ERI) is an important developmental process for ethnic-racial minority youth. However, little is known about how adverse life experiences may be related to ERI development. Thus, the current study evaluated prospective associations of emancipated foster youth’s histories of childhood maltreatment and foster placement disruption with ERI centrality and ERI private regard, as well as the adaptive implications of ERI.
Participants were 144 emancipated foster youth (69.4% female) from ethnic-racial minority backgrounds (27.8% Black, 32.6% Latinx, 39.6% multiracial) who participated in a longitudinal study of youth’s adaptation to aging out of the US child welfare system. Youth reported on their childhood maltreatment severity and child welfare placement history at wave 1 (Mage_w1 = 19.62, SD = 1.11), and on their ERI centrality, ERI private regard, and socioemotional adjustment (i.e., social support, self-esteem, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and life satisfaction) five years later (Mage_w2 = 24.15).
Path analyses revealed that childhood maltreatment severity and placement disruption were associated with lower ERI private regard, but not ERI centrality. Moreover, private regard was associated with better socioemotional adjustment (i.e., higher levels of self-esteem and social support), whereas centrality was related to poorer adjustment (i.e., lower levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction, and higher rates of anxiety and depressive symptoms), and these relations varied by ethnicity-race.
The current findings suggest that efforts to promote positive feelings toward one’s ethnic-racial group membership can support ethnic-racial minority foster youth’s capacity to negotiate developmental challenges in and beyond the child welfare system.