Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


The purpose of this research project was to analyze current and former foster youths’ experiences in the Extended Foster Care (EFC) program. The program was created to better support youths’ self-sufficiency needs for recipients ages eighteen to twenty-one. This vulnerable population continues to grow in the public child welfare system and research is limited on how recipients far after leaving EFC. Previous literature illustrates foster youth who exited the program struggled to transition into adulthood. Many youth faced challenges such as homelessness, unstable employment, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

The researchers conducted a qualitative study of seven participants’ experiences through face-to-face and telephone interviews. All participants were enrolled in EFC through Southern California public child welfare agencies. Participants described positive experiences in EFC programs but emphasized the need for additional guidance and to reach self-sufficiency. The study’s findings suggest that participants experienced limited access to EFC services as evidenced by participants barriers and lack of involvement in services. Participants from the study expressed a need for more social interaction with peers, social workers, and mentors. The researchers also found the need for improved support networks among EFC youth. Participants provided detailed suggestions for improving EFC programs.

The research findings inform social work practice and research with youth in EFC. The researchers recommend further support for research on EFC youth as data is limited and this population is difficult to recruit. On the practice level, social workers must be trained to better meet this populations needs. On the policy level a mentorship program is proposed to be implemented for the support of EFC youth. Study limitations included difficulty recruiting participants due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of a diverse sample. Researchers assume the needs of this population are even greater due to the limited participation in the study.

Included in

Social Work Commons