Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


Over 425,000 youth currently reside in the U.S. foster care system. Youth enter the foster care system for the many reasons, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, incarceration of a parent, abandonment, and death of a family member. Once in the foster care system, many youth remain until they reach adulthood. The purpose of this study is to examine the perspectives of current and former foster youth who remained in foster care into their adulthood and who participated in the Independent Living Program (ILP), a program designed to help foster youth transition to adulthood and independence. The study used in-depth, qualitative interviews to examine former foster youths’ perceptions of the role ILP played in their transitions to adulthood. This study examines the difficult transitions to independence many foster youth experience and the corresponding skills and behaviors ILP addresses.

Several themes emerged from the data. Current and former foster youth with negative outcomes reported that staff assigned to them did not support them in correlation to ILP service deliverance and the transition into adulthood. The second major theme found was inconsistent participation in ILP. The third major theme was communication with clients so that they can be informed of upcoming events, workshops, and resources. The fourth major theme was participants’ suggestions on improvements for ILP. The findings from this study have implications for ILP programs and for social work practice. These implications and recommendations are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons