Date of Conferral





Human Services


Barbara Benoliel


Many youth exit the United States foster care system each year and face challenges related to housing, employment, health care, and education. After emancipation, foster youth can experience family instability, educational disruption, incarceration, unemployment, unstable housing, and emotional problems at a much higher rate than youth in the general population. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the experiences of African American foster women and the social support they received in finding housing upon exiting foster care system. Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory provided a conceptual framework of social interrelation for the study. Data were collected from a purposeful sample of 4 African American former foster care women, a foster parent, a social worker, and a director of a support service's programs through face-to-face interviews. Data were analyzed using a 5-step approach for coding and analysis. Key findings were that the mobilization of collaborative social network support from foster parents, social workers, and government officials before foster youth enters their transitional phase were keys to successful outcomes. According to the foster care women and supporting adults' reports, more collaboration among agencies may assist youth with transitioning to independent living. Additionally, one-on-one mentorship program could address housing, education, employment, and health plans prior to emancipation. This study contributes to social change by providing information to those who provide services to foster care youth and may lead to enhanced programs and services encouraging youth to pursue their goals, and promote economic self-sufficiency.