The Child Welfare System, Social Support, and Independence Readiness

Marina Potter , Pennsylvania State University
Sarah Font, Pennsylvania State University

Youth in the Child Welfare System (CWS) often experience difficult transitions to adulthood, in part because their experiences disadvantage them in terms of independence readiness. Using a sample of youth aged 16-17 in the second cohort of the National Surveys of Child and Adolescent Well-being (n=745), the authors employed Latent Class Analysis to identify patterns of independence readiness among CWS youth. Placement status (biological parent care, kinship care, or non-relative foster care) was then tested as a predictor of readiness class. Finally, social support was investigated as a potential mediator of placement status and independence readiness. Results yielded three distinct classes of independence readiness: Poorly Prepared, Working Track, and Highly Knowledgeable. Placement status did not significantly predict readiness class, but peer support predicted reduced risk of youth being Poorly Prepared as compared to Working Track or Highly Knowledgeable.

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 Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth