Youth-Caseworker Relationship Quality & Academic Resilience Among Transition-Age Youth in Foster Care

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Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

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High school graduation is a key developmental milestone. Most youth in foster care and young people generally want to attend college but adverse experiences put many at risk of either not completing high school or earning an alternative degree, which reduces the likelihood of college enrollment. Youth in foster care have disproportionately low graduation rates but can be academically resilient, and studies suggest that caseworkers play an important role in their academic trajectories. Less is known about how youth-caseworker relationships, as perceived by transition-age youth themselves, relates to high school completion. Multinomial logistic regression showed better youth-caseworker relationship quality was associated with a higher probability of high school graduation with a diploma for youth who reported clinical posttraumatic symptoms. Results suggest that youth’s subjective experience with caseworkers is important, and supportive caseworkers can mitigate the negative effects of trauma so that youth can reach their academic goals. Assessing and enhancing this core relationship warrants significant focus in future research, practice, and policy.


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