Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational & Clinical Studies

First Committee Member

Michelle T. Tannock

Second Committee Member

Susan Miller

Third Committee Member

Tom Pierce

Fourth Committee Member

Lori Olafson

Number of Pages



The data obtained in this qualitative study focused on the educational experiences of youth formerly in foster care after graduation from high school from the viewpoint of the youth. Data were gathered from interviews from 10 participants. Themes included: (a) How do youth emancipated from foster care perceive their educational experiences? (b) What could teachers have done differently to assist the foster youth when he/she first arrived in the classroom or when he/she was moving to another placement? (c) What did teacher do to help the foster youth feel welcomed and part of the classroom community?

Interviews were conducted and used predetermined questions. The answers were recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were evaluated for themes. The themes included: a) There were supportive adults in the lives of the participants, which included school staff or a foster parent. b) The effect of school behaviors, both positive and negative, and the relationship of those behaviors to placement stability. c) Feelings about school experiences including a feeling of normalcy and the inability to feel successful. d) School staff's knowledge of a participant while placed in foster care, which included knowledge of and no knowledge of being a foster child. e) The impact of classroom teachers was evident including easy or difficult transitions into the classroom. f) Participating in the study to help children in foster care consider their educational process with subcategories including positive aspects of foster care, self-advocacy, communication, transition services, and ameliorating negative feelings.

The results for this study included the perceptions of the former youth in foster care about his/her educational experiences. The results of the study demonstrated the need to fill the gap in the current literature about the experience of youth in foster care and provide a basis for further investigations related to the schools, social work agencies, caseworkers, and foster families can support youth in foster care in promoting positive outcomes in their educational experiences.


Education; Emancipation; Ex-foster children; Foster care; Foster children – Education; Foster home care; Foster youth


Education | Other Education | Social Work

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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