Predictors of Income among Youth Aged Out of Foster Care
Thomson, Rebecca N.
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Foster care youth face considerable difficulties as a result of their birth family histories, their experiences within the foster care system, as well as the unstable environments into which they exit care. With all of the obstacles present, it is not surprising that many foster youth are not economically successful after aging out of care. The current study investigates the predictors of income within a sample of aged out youth in the Detroit metropolitan area. The sample included 262 participants who all participated in phone interviews approximately 30 min. in length. The interview questions addressed the functioning of the former foster youth in a variety of domains: living arrangements, family,education, work and public assistance, criminal history, service utilization, physical and sexual victimization, substance abuse, illegal behaviors, psychological symptoms, and risky sexual behaviors. Numerous predictor variables were analyzed for possible relationships with average monthly job income. It was assumed that the males in the sample would have significantly higher incomes than the females, and this hypothesis was accurate. In addition, it was presumed that the number of days a participant spent homeless, their frequency of school attendance after aging out of care, and the number of placements they experienced as a foster child would be significantly correlated with average monthly job income; however, these variables did not reveal any effects on income level. Significant relationships are reported and discussed, but the study did not target any specific issue that should be addressed over others to help foster youth reach successful economic outcomes. Stable adult mentors are proposed as a method for supporting foster youth before and after aging out of care on any matter of importance that may arise.