Date of Conferral







Rhonda Bohs


In the United States, approximately 30,000 youth “age out” of the foster care system and enter independent living each year. Statistics indicate poverty, homelessness, unmet needs, and mental illness occur at higher rates for these youth than their non-foster care peers, and little research has been conducted regarding their experience. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of African American youth who have aged out of the foster care system and factors they attribute to their transitional outcomes. The attribution and emerging adulthood theories guided this study. Data were collected via interview from a sample size of 12 African American youth aged 21- through 25-years-old who have aged out of the foster care system. The data were analyzed using Moustaka’s steps of analysis and coded to identify categories and themes. Themes emerging from the data included 7 areas of challenge in skills and preparation for independent living. The findings of this study suggested that ongoing preparation before and after emancipation, adult support, and supportive services, are some of the essential components that may ensure positive transitional outcomes. Recommendations include further research of the ongoing dilemma of this vulnerable population with focus on giving foster youth a voice in generating greater understanding of the difficulties, and improvement of policies and support services to reduce societal costs and generate positive outcomes resulting in social change.