Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Paula Moore


Historically, there have been significant barriers experienced by youths aging out of the foster care system. A new area of focus highlights youths that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). In this study, the opinions of LGBTQ youths who have aged out of the foster care system in North Carolina were explored and the barriers these youths may encounter as they transition into adulthood were illuminated. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is the framework that was used to guide this study. A basic qualitative approach was used with semistructured interviews of 10 LGBTQ aged-out youths in North Carolina. The main topics for the interview questions were centered around how prepared the youths feel for transition, the barriers after the transition, and the utilization of resources. Data were analyzed through development of codes and themes. Three themes were identified: (a) perceived preparedness, (b) barriers, and (c) utilization of resources. The results of this study could benefit positive social change through the social work profession by increasing social workers’ and foster care organizations' awareness of the barriers LGBTQ aged-out youths encounter, hopefully enabling the use of future resources and planning that are more culturally competent.

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