Successfully Aging Out of Foster Care: A Constructivist Grounded Theory Study

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Authors
Ebersole, Lee
Issue Date
2019-06-17
Type
Dissertation
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en_US
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Abstract
Youth aging out of foster care confront considerable challenges when transitioning to adulthood. Research focuses overwhelmingly on negative outcomes for youth emerging from foster care. Youth in foster care in West Virginia must also cope with a child welfare system in crisis due to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. This constructivist grounded theory study explored the process youth experience when successfully aging out of foster care in West Virginia. This approach to qualitative research emphasizes promoting social justice through the power of storytelling. Intensive qualitative interviews with five participants, all adults between the ages of 21 and 30, provided the core data source for exploration of the lived experiences of young people who had successfully aged out of foster care from placement in West Virginia. Findings, derived from a coding system with 25 initial codes, coalesced into an emerging theoretical framework for successfully aging of foster care in West Virginia comprising five theoretical categories: (a) reflection, (b) relationship, (c) resilience, (d) responsibility, and (e) resurgence. Multiple properties defined each category with saturation of the data. The Governor’s Success Academy—a three-week summer experience for West Virginians in foster care in grades nine through 11 as part of the Governor’s Schools of West Virginia—constitutes a solution in alignment with the findings and research presented in the study. The academy intends to foster collaboration among system leaders while providing direct services to youth in foster care. Implications include investigating whether the emerging theoretical framework applies to other contexts as well as further exploring the leadership of youth in foster care.|Keywords: foster care, aging out, emancipation, transition to adulthood
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Creighton University
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Copyright is retained by the Author. A non-exclusive distribution right is granted to Creighton University and to ProQuest following the publishing model selected above.
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