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Social work with youth, Foster children -- Education (Higher) -- United States, College attendance -- United States, Foster children -- United States -- Social conditions


For this study, researchers from Pathways Research and Training Center at Portland State University explored the perspectives of college students with foster care histories and self-identified mental health conditions. Researchers aimed to better understand how the relationship between students’ foster care identity and their newly forming student identities might impact academic success. We conducted interviews with students participating in the FUTURES intervention efficacy study, which evaluated the impact of a 9-month self-determination coaching program for students enrolled in their first two years of college at Portland State University, Portland Community College, or Mt. Hood Community College. Interview participants (N=18) were 72% female, 78% identified as non-white or mixed race, and 28% identified as LGBTQIA. The research team conducted thematic analysis of the interview transcripts by iteratively organizing inductive codes into broader themes and developing related findings. Four themes were developed related to the complexities of the foster student experience – including mental health challenges and other life stressors, and their impact on developing student identities in postsecondary education.


A product of the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.

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