This study examines the decision-making skills of emerging adults that have aged out of foster care and transitioned to independent life. Emerging adults face a wide variety of life-direction determining decisions and those aging out of foster care experience even more significant transitional issues. Youth aging out of foster care may lack the requisite decision-making competencies for coping with these challenges. This study compares the decision-making skills of foster care alumni to a group of similar individuals who were not involved in the child welfare system. Using a validated quantitative survey instrument, 29 foster care alumni and 29 demographically similar non-fostered participants described their general decision-making skills and elaborated on their personal experiences of reaching the age of majority. Statistical analyses of group differences indicate foster alumni score lower on overall decision-making skills and the decision-making process. In anecdotal comments, foster alumni tended to focus on their experience of leaving the foster system, while the non-fostered population elaborated on what it was like to become a legal adult. This study suggests that youth aging out of the foster care system may need support with the aspects of decision-making relating to the generation of alternatives and inferential reasoning about decision consequences as one way to augment and improve the transitional services designed to prepare foster youth for independent life.
Children and Youth Services Review – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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