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Indybay Feature
How Foster Care Affects Outcomes in Adulthood
by Megan Lucas, Romelly Rivera, Zakayya Nichols
This article takes a look at the Foster Care system, and how it can affect life in adulthood.
How Foster Care Affects Outcomes in Adulthood
By Megan Lucas, Romelly Rivera, Leticia Martinez, Zakayya Nichols, Jocelyn McMillan, Valdemar Arreola, Arlette Martinez


Abstract
Foster care is a global issue, there are millions of children in foster care that are left without adequate resources and strong support systems which doesn’t allow them to reach their fullest potential. It is almost impossible to address just the foster care issues without mentioning broader social problems they may encounter. Taking a closer look at the statistics we found that many children that are in foster care are at higher risk to experiencing drug abuse, domestic and sexual abuse, poverty, and long term effects such as mental illnesses and incarceration as well. The overall goal for this project was to not only find solutions, but to bring awareness to the issues and long term affects children in the foster care experience, and how all of this affects their future. Our research team aimed to dissect why children within the foster care system seem to experience these problems. Interviews with children that were in the foster care system, families that have taken in children in the foster care system, and foster care workers helped us find answers and get a better understanding on this complex topic. It is a broader topic than others within society make it out to be, and it is important that we take a look at the bigger picture. There has to be solutions to stop these issues from recurring, and essentially jeopardizing the futures of children in the foster care system.


Introduction
About 670,000 children in the United States are in foster care per year. 80,000 of those kids are located in California. On average, only 59% of foster kids in 12th grade in 2018 graduated high school, and only 3% went on to earn a college degree. Looking at the outcomes of previous foster kids, it is not uncommon for a child to not succeed. Some reasoning behind this can be due to aging out of the system, and having nowhere to go. Before this happens, kids may be switched around from home to home, neglected, and in need of proper mental health care that they are unable to receive from the system of foster care.

In this research, we took a look at what children’s lives look like inside of the foster care system, and how their experience has affected their adult lives, being outside of the system. Within California, specifically Northern California, we were able to interview and understand how foster care had made some children feel, and how people who do social work, and any work within the foster care system deal with issues they see and how they strive to make the experience as good as it can be. The people who work in this field, that we were able to interview, gave insight on what this type of work looks like, and what they see on a daily basis. It is important to understand what happens in the system of foster care, any issues that it might lead to, and what people can do to change this, or better it.


Literature Review

Statistics

An article by Ashly Marie Yamat focuses on how foster children are always in need of a home, and failure to provide foster children with the right support has led them to the juvenile justice system. The article, The Foster-Care-to Prison Pipeline, states that it is “more likely that students will enter the juvenile justice system than attain a quality education” (Shelden & Troshynski, 2020, p.304). Many times, foster children are at a disadvantage because they do not have the right resources. It has been shown that the foster care system has its flaws, and deficits by not helping prevent the children from getting into trouble. Foster children go through mentally and physical difficulties, and they are not receiving the right care. “Children in the foster care system commonly juggle many difficulties ranging from inconsistent levels of supervision to blatant disregard by a system claiming to want to help. These systemic challenges, which are often overlooked, lead to inequity and an inability for the foster care system to safeguard children” (Yamat, p. 3), often leading children to the juvenile justice system.

There are children in the foster care system that are experiencing abuse and neglect. In fact, “9 out of every 1,000 children in the United States were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect” (National CASA Association 2022). There are children that are constantly being put in foster care, and there are times where some are put in at an early age affecting them tremendously. There are children who are placed from one place to another not receiving the right care of just one individual but many others. In addition, moving the children constantly, and not having stable help from someone is a frightening experience. Foster care children “tend to suffer high rates of debilitating depression and low self-esteem” (Casey Family Foundation 2022).

Long-Term Effects
Researcher Sandra Kae Cook examined former foster children and non-foster placed children. “The results of the study indicate that former foster children did report lower scores on life happiness, higher depression scores, lower levels of esteem, lower scores on marital happiness, less intimate paternal and maternal relationships, and higher incidence of social isolation than adults who were never in foster care placements'' (Cook 2000). The research notes that former foster children are more likely to run into more problems in the future. There are times where they do not have the right resources, and due to previous circumstances that put them in foster care cause them to be damaged internally.

There are stories from two individuals that live in Sonoma County and were in foster care. An individual was placed with a woman who became her mom who ended up having a good relationship with her. In fact, she mentions that, “living with mom was the best thing that happened to me in my chaotic life and for two and a half years I was stable and seemingly ready for college. I moved to go to Humboldt State and quickly lost the stability I had gained. I struggled with alcoholism and becoming homeless again”(Hartwell 2017).

Even when foster care children end up with someone who will positively change their life, there is a chance that after becoming an adult it can become hard for them in life. Jessica Fonseca, a former foster care individual, ended up homeless after aging out of the system. Homelessness led Jessica to make actions that would help her stay alive such as stealing necessities which included “..clothes, toiletries, and blankets to alcohol, drugs and cigarettes” (Fonseca 2017).

According to Hartwell and Fonseca, many end up homeless which affects them mentally. There are difficulties that former foster individuals face after, and homelessness has been a huge issue. In addition, emotional and physical damage can cause them to not want to accept help from anyone, and Fonseca suggests that they need someone who will not give up on them.


Testimonials/Cases
There are various articles on cases of children who have been put in the wrong hands by the foster care system. Rob McMillan explains various cases where children were mistreated in the foster care system. In April 2018, Diane Ramirez entered the foster care system and a year later she was murdered. There were allegations that were made while Diane Ramiez was in foster care yet nothing was done to prevent such tragedy. “Morris - one of the operators of the Morris Small Family Home - was indicted on a variety of charges involving several victims. The charges included murder, child endangerment, dependent adult endangerment and lewd acts on a dependent adult”(McMillan 2022).

Diane has not been the only victim while in foster care. There are many other stories of children who have been mistreated. In 2015, Gabriel Fernandez, an 8 year old, was tortured and murdered. It is known that the foster care system failed the child, and “It remains unclear why the Norwalk boy was placed in Casarez’s care” (McMillan 2022). Concerns are being raised as to why children in foster care are experiencing some sort of mistreatment, and the foster care system has failed the children by not removing them from those families. McMillan mentions that the individuals that mistreat the children get convicted but are just as easily left off the hook.

Abuse is a huge issue in the foster care system. Lacey Latch speaks about Aiden Seeley, a 15-month-old toddler who died in September 2020. Aiden was placed into a home of three other foster children and a biological child of Dacey Spinuzzi who was responsible for taking care of the children. Furthermore, she had a boyfriend that abused and murdered Aiden in just two months of being “cared” for by Spinuzzi. Despite Spinuzzi being responsible for Aiden, she allowed her boyfriend to get close to the foster children, and it led to an unfortunate tragedy. The boyfriend, “Jones pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge related to Seeley's death” (Latch ) because Spinuzzi lied in court to protect Jones. Justice is not being served for foster care children who are being put in the wrong care.


Abuse and Neglect
According to an article published by Psychology Today (2018) statistics show that about 28% of children are abused when they are in the foster care system. This problem has been underestimated since children often don’t speak up about the abuse they may be experiencing because they are conditioned to not bring attention to others by bringing it up (Negligence, 2022). According to the article, staff may overlook abuse because they are given too many children to monitor, they may feel overwhelmed with all their responsibilities, or have extensive paperwork obligations. As a result children within the foster care system that experience abuse often experience a variety of long-term emotional and psychological problems. Children that are placed in unstable foster home environments are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, promiscuity at a younger age, they tend to do poorly in school, and may even develop a distrust in authority figures (Negligence, 2022).



Methods

The purpose of this study was to gain a stronger understanding of the foster care experience that may or may not affect an individual's outcome in adulthood, identify long-term effects, areas of improvement, and provide solutions. To gain a stronger understanding of the foster care system we engaged in qualitative research utilizing interview methods. The purpose of the interview method was to collect detailed information about the lived experience and perspectives regarding foster care using carefully selected open ended questions. Our target population included individuals who had gone through the foster care system and individuals who work or have worked closely with the foster care system.



Interview Method

We created two separate interview guides, one for individuals/families who had gone through the foster care system and one for individuals who work or have worked closely with the foster care system. Both interview guides consisted of 12 open ended questions and took no longer than 20 minutes to administer via phone call or zoom. Conducting the interviews via phone call/zoom ensured participation through familiarity and comfort of location as well as easy accessibility for participants. We conducted a total of 18 in depth interviews which provided detailed information about the participants' lived experiences.

We recruited interviewees and invited interviewees to participate using a snowball sampling method. This allowed us to recruit a greater number of participants by having them assist with recruitment of other potential interviewees such as friends, family members, peers, and colleagues. This sampling method allowed us to gain the trust of the participants which contributed to much more thoughtful participation during the interview process.


Tools

To prepare for the interview process we generated a well-structured list of questions to ask potential interviewees. We then went through the list of questions and divided them based on which group we would be asking specific questions. Once we finalized the two different sets of questions, we ensured the structure of the interview questions flowed and felt comfortable like a conversation. Lastly, we made arrangements to determine when the interviews would take place and who would be conducting the interview. Prior to conducting the interview, we identified the roles each group member would partake in each interview, one being the interviewer and the second being a notetaker.


Key Questions

In interview guide A (interview guide attached) constructed for participants who have gone through the foster care system some key questions include “What do you think foster care could have done better/different to prepare you for the future?” and “What do you think social workers could do to further ensure that these children are being placed in good, stable homes?” These questions were significant to our study because they allowed us to collect detailed responses regarding individuals experiences, perspectives, and knowledge regarding the role foster care had in their outcomes. In interview guide A (interview guide attached) we specifically asked the participant to recall areas of improvement within the foster care system that could have potentially prepared them for a more fruitful future. These questions were asked with the intention of having participants reflect on their experience and to determine if participants believed better steps could have been made to ensure a better outcome later in life. Based on the responses to these questions we can identify areas of improvement in the foster care system to ensure better outcomes in adulthood.

Interview guide B (interview guide attached) constructed for foster care professionals was significant to the study because it allowed us to identify recurring issues and key areas of improvement based on professional knowledge and experience. The responses gathered from professionals when asked the following key questions: “Can you give me an example of a significant recurring problem you have seen in the system?” and “Is there more that can be done to prevent this issue?” not only allowed us to identify recurring issues youth in the foster care system experience but also why they believe these are recurring issues. Asking professionals to share whether or not there is more that can be done to prevent the recurring issues allowed us to identify potential solutions in order to better serve individuals and families who go through the foster care system. In addition, we asked professionals to share “the most important aspects of the foster care system that we can improve on? As well as “if you could change one thing about the system, what would it be?” We found these questions to be significant because they allowed us to further identify key areas of improvement from a professional perspective for the foster care system in order to ensure a better experience and outcome for youths who go through the foster care system.


The responses gathered from the interviews allowed us to identify patterns, form generalizations, and gain a stronger understanding of the lived experiences of individuals who have gone through the system as well as individuals who have worked with the foster care system. This method allowed us to gain an understanding of both groups' experiences, perspectives, emotions, and behaviors that could not have been expressed or understood utilizing a different research method.



Limitations


Some limitations we faced due to the approach of this study was the accessibility of our target population. We did not take into consideration the difficulty of accessing or recruiting participants to partake in the interview process who had gone through the foster care system. We tend to believe that a larger number of participants would yield a stronger understanding of the impact, lived experience, and perspectives of the foster care system. Due to the health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 we were unable to conduct in-depth interviews face-to-face which would have allowed participants to further elaborate and express their experiences in a safe environment. An aspect that we did not discuss in this study due to sensitivity reasons was neglect and abuse, these aspects can potentially influence an individual’s perception of their experiences, understanding of their emotions, and influence their behaviors. Abuse was only discussed briefly during the interview process to a very limited extent with participants who had gone through the foster care system due to sensitivity. Deeper issues surrounding abuse were only discussed with participants who work or work closely with the foster care system.

In the future an aspect we would do differently is to possibly use mixed methods which would include a survey method and an interview method. The survey method would allow us to collect large amounts of information in a timely manner, while the interview method would allow us to collect detailed information. Utilizing both methods would allow us to gain a stronger understanding of the role that the foster care system plays later in life for individuals who go through the system. In addition, mixed methods would help identify possible relationships between the foster care experience and outcomes in adulthood.


Findings/results/summary

We interviewed Nine foster care workers, some work in the field as counselors, others as Social workers and one who investigates the cases of whether a child should be put in foster care or remain with the family. When we asked our interviewees to share what their role or experience was like with individuals who have gone through the foster care system, many of them had similar stories. It wasn’t just about placing the children with a family, but it was also getting them the services they needed for mental health issues as well as housing. As Interviewee 1 stated, “So oftentimes they had mental health issues, and we would get their cases and work with an assigned social worker and judge to try and place them somewhere”.

A majority of the workers got into this field because they felt passionate about working with low income, high poverty families, and wanted to see if they could help do something for the community. They shared wanting to help abused children with their trauma. We were not surprised when most of the interviewees stated that working in this field is not what they thought it would be. One of the workers stated, “No, I didn't really expect for the system to be the way it is or to work the way that it does. Primarily because of how many cases each worker had, and they didn't even have enough time to work on one specific case for a long period of time. So, I feel like obviously some do provide a service for the kids, and you know, the minors and all of that but they are also doing a disservice because they overlook a lot of different things that are going on with these minors''. A majority of them reported having too many cases and not enough time to help children individually like they wanted. One even stated that the disorganization of the foster care system was not what they had expected.

When asked if there was anything seen working with the foster care system that frequently stuck out, many of the answers dealt with watching the trauma the children go through. One of the answers really stood out to us when they stated, “The foster care system is very similar to the prison system. It institutionalized our children and at a large scale institutionalized brown and black children at an extremely higher rate than their counterparts''. When we asked about recurring issues most said the same trauma, abandonment, attachment issues and lack of funding and resources. When asked if physical or mental abuse was a recurring issue in the system, 90 percent answered yes. They reported that almost all children in the system had some kind of abuse. They reported that many children fall through the cracks. When we asked what could be done to help prevent these issues many reported more training, more supervision, and more mental health services. However, the number one suggestion was more workers and lower caseloads.


When we asked interviewees to share the best outcome they have seen, the stories were beautiful and touching. It was nice to hear positive outcomes. As one interviewee stated, “ Seeing the children having their own children and actually keeping them so they do not continue the cycle of putting them back in the system”. Breaking that cycle is a beautiful ending. One interviewee reported that she didn’t really see that many great outcomes. This statement was very revealing of how often children are failed by the foster care system.

When asked to describe negative outcomes the results were sad and shocking. The common theme was abuse. The most common outcome shared was that many of the children either repeat the cycle, have children of their own and they get lost in the system. Many turn to drugs as coping mechanisms for their childhood trauma. One of the saddest outcomes shared by an interviewee was, “One of the children was killed by an abusive boyfriend and other children lost their children into the system due to neglect or drug use”, an outcome no one ever wants to see happen.

We were interested to learn what aspects of foster care professionals felt needs improvement and what they would change if they could. The answers included more education, more training, stronger legislation, and more accountability when abuse is found. A very strong common theme amongst all interviews included the limited funding and resources which make their jobs much more difficult and prevent them from providing the resources children in foster care need.

Overall, many of the foster care workers shared the same thoughts and answers. Many believe reform needs to be implemented, they would love to see resources allocated differently, and have witnessed some form of abuse or the children they represent have been abused in some form. They shared personal successes within their workplace, with the best outcome being a child going back home to their family and/or being placed with a family who loves them like their very own. Overall, the sentiments are that the workers need fewer caseloads so that they can be more effective with the families.

We also interviewed seven previous foster care children and one family who were foster care family providers. Their perspective and detailed experiences having gone through the foster care system were especially significant to the study. Most of the individuals interviewed were in and out of the foster care system growing up. Some entered the foster care system due to a parent’s drug addiction and others from a parent Child Protective Service (CPS) involvement. The duration of time spent in foster care varied from 6 months to 8 years. One interviewee spent a total of 15 years in the foster care system, having been placed at 3 years old and aging out at 18 years old.

The experiences shared by the interviewees were difficult to hear. One of the interviewees described her most significant memory, “Being taken from my mother and out into a Child Protective Service car where I had no idea where I was being taken and why I was being taken”. As a child being taken from the only family I had known and getting into a strangers car was very scary. How does a child make sense of it all? Or being separated from their siblings and being placed in a home where you know no one and all you want is to be with your brothers and sisters.”

A very significant but difficult question was asking them to describe or share their worst experience in the foster care system. The memories, the sadness and tears when asked to describe some of their scariest moments were difficult but gave us detailed insight of their foster care experience as children. One interviewee shared her worst experience in which she stated, “ Not able to talk to them and when they took all my personal clothes away from me. The only comforts of home, (my clothes) were not allowed. You always knew that you were the guest because of how they treated you. It was not comfortable and still to this day I always carry an awkward feeling in my life even around my closest family”. Feeling like an outsider was a recurring theme we heard amongst many of those we interviewed. The second most common was worrying about their siblings, who were placed in separate homes.

A significant question asked to interviewees was to share with us their best memories during their time in foster care. Most were happy to be reunited with their families. Though some of the families were still unhealthy, they were just happy to be out of the system and back home. However, some repeated being in and out of the system while their families struggled to stay clean and out of the CPS system.

As for life after the system, some said it was a struggle to maneuver through life with no real support system. For others, once they understood why they were in the foster care system it made more sense and they didn't fight the system as much. It varied from person to person and really depended on how their foster family cared for them. With this, we wanted to know what could have been done to better prepare them for the future. We received some really strong answers. Most wished for better resources and others wished that they would have been talked to more. That someone would have explained why they were there and what was happening while it was happening. One answer really stood out, “I feel that they could have treated us like family instead of treating us like we were in juvenile hall. Most of us were there because of things our parents did or our parents were not able to care for us correctly. I was not there because I was a troublemaker and all the girls I saw come in were always treated like it was our fault we were there. It was not right”. This was not the first time we had heard of a foster family running a home like a jail or the first time hearing institutionalized used as a word to describe those in the system.

When we asked about whether they witnessed abuse in the foster care system. Most shared their own personal abuse they had witnessed. Some shared they never witnessed abuse at all. Again it varied between interviews and depended on the placement. When asked if their experience in foster care impacted their adult life/outcome, we heard some really beautiful stories and again some heart wrenching answers. One shared that she became a foster parent herself after being in the system. Another reported that she hated authority and “The system” due to her experience. Others are very grateful to be out of the system. Because some have difficult outcomes due to having a hard time in foster homes, we asked what they think social workers could do further to ensure that children are being placed in good, stable homes. We got answers having to do with better background checks, checking on the children more often and trying to keep siblings together. Some believed that the families really do the best they can with what they have.

We asked “if children were allowed to stay in foster homes past the age of 18 would their future/outcomes in life be different?” The answers varied between each individual and again it really depends on if the family is a stable family. One shared that, “I do not have personal experience with teenage foster kids. However, it seems plain and logical that most would benefit from the direction, counsel, and practical help of foster parents as they graduate high school, navigate higher education or work, and make adult life choices and thus have better long-term outcomes. Very few kids within intact homes are ejected at the age of 18. Parents in such homes lovingly coach and counsel their kids as they begin adulthood. Foster kids who turn 18 should have the same opportunity for parental help”.

The stories and answers varied between each interviewer but the common theme was, taking the time to explain to the child what's going on while it is going on. Explaining why they are in the system. The outcomes in life were very much dependent on whether you were placed in a loving and stable environment. We heard the word counseling a lot. Getting children to talk to someone as soon as they are put into the system would have helped tremendously.


Solutions

Children are in foster care for many different reasons, such as unfit parents, abuse, deceased parents, unfit living conditions, etc. The trauma from being removed from family is difficult in itself, so there is no reason that their placement and treatment afterwards should be anything less than excellent.

Research done by the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being states that youth in foster care have very high needs for mental health care, and these needs are not being met. A solution that can be put in place would include free and accessible therapy available to all children in foster care. This could take place weekly, or monthly for those who feel they do not need therapy. Frequent and thorough check-ins by social workers or psychologists on the children would also help to reduce any difficulties due to mental health.

Through interviews we have done, many participants agreed on the fact that the system can be helped through receiving more funding. Funding can be given to resources in order to hire new, caring, and qualified people. Hiring more people will reduce the workload for case workers, allowing them to give more focus and care into the children they are working with. This funding can also go to areas that would provide intensive training for staff, teaching adequate care, both emotionally and physically towards a child with whom they are working. Mental health training on gaining knowledge on how to understand and respond to children while they are going through certain situations in the system is extremely important, so training on this would go a long way.

Another solution may be accessible and welcoming group homes that are available to foster children after they age out of the system. Because children are no longer under the care of the state once they turn 18, an average of 31% of them will become homeless, which can lead to many other issues such as drug use and incarceration. If more kids are given the opportunity to have housing and resources after turning 18, the rate of homelessness will be reduced.




Conclusion

When we began this project we were hoping to find whether or not being in the foster care system affects the outcomes of adulthood for previous foster care youth. We were able to find that many previous foster care youth had, and still to this day, have, many struggles but have pulled through and are trying to pull through to overcome their struggles. On the other hand we were also able to find that many previous foster care youth also had positive benefits from being in the foster care system as some of our interviewees reflected how they are who they are today because being in foster care put them in a better position then what they were in before.

Some of the struggles that we found were issues surrounding abuse, internal and external; physical, mental, emotional, financial and forceful. Along with abuse came struggling to get a good job, mental health problems, having trust issues (rocky relationships/hard to make friends), feeling lonely, being distant, unresolved trauma and more. As we stated above, it is quite difficult to overcome these struggles. In order to overcome these issues there are resources available to previous foster care youth specifically and general resources that can be found and come in handy.

Let’s not only focus on the outcomes that may have affected previous foster care youth in a negative way. Some participants of our interviews also had some good things to say regarding being in the foster care system and their adulthood outcomes. Such as being able to become stable in a home and stability being provided to them, being loved by those who surrounded them and learning to be grateful in life.

We were able to find that the adulthood outcomes of each individual previous foster care youth varies by generation. Referring to our interviewees experience with the foster care system, we can see the amount of resources available has continued to grow. Other variations for the adulthood outcomes of each individual that we found was their reasoning for placement, and where they were placed along with resources available/provided for the foster care youth. This explains the different outcomes that we found throughout our research. In our research study we dug deep enough to pinpoint a few issues and come up with some solutions to resolve these issues.

With our results of our interviews conducted we put together some possible solutions for improving the outcome of adulthood in previous foster care youth. One solution was to increase funds available for resources. There needs to be more resources available for the youth while they are in the system to prepare them for adulthood rather than “throwing” money at them. Another solution was to have the foster care system take a deeper look into the child’s needs versus what they think the child may need off of quick instincts. This means social workers spending more time with the children and making actual observations of a child’s needs based on their behavior and environment. These solutions will improve previous foster care youth outcomes of adulthood.



Acknowledgements

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the research process for Sonoma State University’s Investigative Sociology Spring 2022 Class. It has been a pleasure working with the North Bay’s Foster Care System across the counties as we prepared to address many topics surrounding the foster care system. We would also like to thank Professor Peter Phillips for allowing us to conduct research under his instruction. The SSU Investigative Sociology class dedicated a substantial amount of time to our research in order to provide an understanding of the Foster Care System from many perspectives involving Foster Children themselves, Foster Parents and employees who work in the foster care system. We appreciate the responses from employees as many responded in a timely manner and answered the questions on the interview guide with dignity. We are grateful for the responses received as the past few weeks have been an eye opening experience into Foster Care by our group and we welcome the opportunity to present our findings to the professor, the reader and the community.










Bibliography
Concordia St. Paul. 2022. Trauma & Children in Foster Care: A Comprehensive Overview - Concordia St. Paul. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
Cook, S., 1992. Long-term consequences of foster care for adult well-being. [online] DigitalCommons. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
Hartwell, S. and Fonseca, J., 2017. Stories from two VOICES Sonoma Youth. [online] VOICES Youth Programs. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
Speak Up Now. 2022. Foster Care System. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
McMillan, R., 2022. Family of teen who died while in foster care furious after suspect released from jail. [online] ABC7 Los Angeles. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
Ncsl.org. 2022. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].
Negligence, N. and Happen?, H., 2022. Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Factors : Chicago : Deratany & Kosner. [online] Deratany & Kosner. Available at: [Accessed 16 May 2022].
Yamat, A., 2020. The Foster-Care-toPrison Pipeline. [online] Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2022].




Interview Guide A

How many years were you in the foster care system?
Do you have any memories that stick out to you the most?
What was the worst part of your experience
What was the best part of your experience?
How was life after leaving foster care?
What do you think foster care could have done better/different to prepare you for the future? (if there were any struggles after leaving)
What was your personal experience with the foster care system?
Did you ever witness abuse in the foster care system?
Do you still stay in contact with your foster care family?
What do you think social workers could do to further ensure that these children are being placed in good, stable homes?
Do you think if children were allowed to stay in foster homes past the age of 18 their future/outcomes in life would be different?
Did your experience in foster care impact your adult life/outcome?






Interview guide B

Tell me about your experience in the foster care system?

What made you decide to work in this field?

Is working in the foster care system what you thought it would be?

Tell me, is there anything you often see working within the foster care system that frequently sticks out to you?

Based on your experience in the foster care system, would you say there are recurring issues individuals or families experience.

Can you give me an example of a significant recurring problem you have seen in the system?

In your opinion, is there more that can be done to prevent this issue?

Would you say that physically or mental abuse is a recurring issue in youth who go through the system?

Can you share the best outcome you have seen?
What aspects made this outcome the best?
What are some negative outcomes you have seen?

Closing Questions:

In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of foster care that we can improve on?

If you could change one thing about the system, what would it be?
Do you think we can better serve foster kids?
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