Quantitative studies reveal considerable negative adult life outcomes for those who emancipate from the foster care system. This qualitative study of emancipated youth sheds light on how and why these outcomes occur.
Sixteen participants were asked to recount their life stories in their own words from the time of foster care emancipation to the present, along with some description of their experiences while in care.
Results show a common experience of negative outcomes following emancipation in the areas of education, employment, income, housing, relationships, and mental health, consistent with quantitative studies on this population.
Findings demonstrate that a lack of human and social capital, in the form of instability of foster care homes, mentoring, and life skills training are to blame for negative life outcomes. Participants offer specific suggestions for improving the foster care system and emancipation process to develop greater resilience and more positive life outcomes for foster care youth.