Date of Conferral
Steven E. Linnville
The Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2011 directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to U.S. states to create programs within public and private community entities to support mentoring foster children. Some states have allocated funding to support agencies that mentor foster care youth who have been emancipated (aged out) from the child foster care system who are without family support and are attempting to become self-sufficient. To date, there is a lack of research on mentors who help foster care graduates preparing to exit the foster care system. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of mentors who work with foster care youth who have aged out of the foster care system. The study's theoretical framework was a combination of socio-motivational theory and empowerment theory. Content analysis was used to examine data from in-depth interviews with the 11 professional mentors who participated in this study. Common themes were organized to present participants' experiences and views regarding their careers as mentors, and the services they provide to foster care youth and foster care graduates. All participants viewed their work as essential in helping foster care graduates to become independent and self-sufficient. Implications for positive social change include creating standardized life skills courses for foster youth before they emancipate and changing government policy to ensure funds are allocated for housing while foster care graduates are enrolled in college or a trade school.