Foster care alumni: The importance of social capital and social networks




Perez, Beatrix F.

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The main purpose of this collection is to present several papers that resulted from a study exploring the life experiences of former foster care youth and their housing experiences. This collection addresses the life experiences of youth while they were in care, during the transition out of care, and their experiences after they "aged out" or exited the foster care system. The collection highlights the numerous challenges foster youth encounter as they journey from placement, through transition, and towards emancipation.

This work is the result of a qualitative study conducted at the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute housed at the University of Texas San Antonio.1 The project sought to explore former foster care youth transitions out of care and their housing experiences. The subjects included 32 alumni of foster care with the majority between the ages of 18--22 years and consisted of 44% male and 56% female respondents. The racial demographic of the sample was 78% Latino, 13% African American, and 9% White and represents one of very few samples with a large Latino demographic. The interview questions addressed in-care placements, transition out of care, and emancipation experiences. The collection highlights the importance of social capital that is defined as tangible and intangible resources, benefits, or knowledge as a result of ties and relationships through social networks that may help youth through their experiences. These young people, referred to as "youth" throughout the collection, experience both positive and negative aspects of social capital as a result of either access to or lack of stable social networks.


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adult transitions, foster care, latino, social capital, social networks