Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

School Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jacqueline Brown

Commitee Members

Greg Machek, Chris Fiore, Anisa Goforth, Sarah Reese


Foster care, Foster parents


University of Montana


The current study had two aims. The first aim was to explore and compare the perspectives of former foster youth and foster parents surrounding the emancipation process. The current study aimed to uncover what information is being shared with foster children when approaching the age of emancipation about life choices such as college, careers, housing, finances, and social support, as well as who is sharing this information and how accurate and helpful it is for the foster youth. Foster parents were asked questions pertaining to their level of training, knowledge of available resources, and experiences with transitioning foster children out of foster care. The second aim was to explore the college experience from the perspective of former foster youth currently enrolled. In 2023, the National Foster Care Institute reported that only three to four percent of former foster youth obtain a four-year college degree. Being that former foster youth in the current study are enrolled in college, their experiences are fairly unique and important to consider. Foster youth currently attending college were asked questions pertaining to their experiences in college, as well as the factors that played a role in getting them to college. Additionally, college students with foster care histories were also asked to share their perspectives regarding what supports have been useful and what is missing on campus These questions were explored with a sample of former foster children currently attending college, as well as foster parents in the mountain west region of the United Stated. The current study utilized a qualitative approach, conducting interviews with both groups. Former foster youth and foster parent perspectives surrounding the emancipation process and the college experience were explored. The goal was to gain information through rich descriptions of experiences that will help foster youth succeed in college and life after foster care.



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