Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Simon, James


This study examines current barriers to stable housing, as well as gaps within the social service system, that hinder transitional age foster youth from obtaining stable housing after exiting extended foster care. This study is relevant to the social work profession due to overrepresented number of youth in the foster system and a need for services to reduce their chance of homelessness once aging out. The barriers found in this study were identified by the researcher through the interviews with both professionals working with this population, as well as transitional age foster youth themselves. Maximum variation was achieved with the participants through a non -probability sampling technique commonly referred to as snowball sampling. This technique was used to target the perspectives of professionals working with transitional age foster youth as well as the population itself, in a large county in Southern California. Qualitative data analysis was obtained through guided interviews with four transitional age foster youth living in a transitional housing program and seven professionals who have experience working with this population. Content analysis was used to identify commonalities in the data that the researcher categorized into themes: systemic factors and transitional factors.

The research provided comprehensive information that indicated serious barriers and gaps experience by transitional age foster youth, contributing to the inability for many in this population to obtain safe and stable housing after exiting care. The themes found in this research point to a clear need for improvement within the social service system (i.e., more resources, extended age requirements, proper social worker involvement and more collaboration between agencies) and during transition (i.e., education and employment assistance, increased need for motivation among this population, increased self-sufficiency/independence and more permanent connections and supports) in order for them to have a better chance of becoming independent and avoiding homelessness.