Emotional Intimacy Among Former Foster Youth

Purpose: Foster youth encounter a magnitude of barriers as they age out of the foster care system and begin their journey into adulthood. Prior research has demonstrated that foster youth who have been involved in a mentorship program or have a consistent positive adult in their lives have better outcomes upon aging out of foster care. In particular, foster youth who had a consistent positive adult in their lives had increased academic achievements, financial stability, and positive behavior. Our study surveyed current and former foster youth and explored their ability to form intimate emotional relationships with others and the impact on their emotional well-being. Methods: Participants (n=10; 2 identified as Caucasian, 2 as Hispanic or Latino, 3 as African American, 1 identified as Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2 as Multiracial or Biracial) completed an online anonymous survey, responses were recorded on Qualtrics software. Results: The results identified three themes; "intimate relationships enhance emotional well-being," "foster care staff as chosen family," and "mistrust in creating relationships." Discussion: Overall, our findings indicate that it is vital for former foster youth to have emotionally intimate relationships with consistent adults. Generally foster youth have a deficit in adults who they can trust, care for, or build a healthy relationship with and our results conclude that former foster youth seek out support from others during difficult times to manage life stressors.