Thesis

The social capital former foster youth need to access and persist through community college

Brief Literature Review Of approximately 300,000 former foster youth between the ages of 18 and 25, about half obtain a high school diploma (Emerson, 2007). Aside from trauma or abuse, various factors stand in the way of their academic success. Of the 150,000 former foster youth who do graduate from high school, only about 30,000 actually attend college or a university (Wolanin, 2005). This population continues to age out of the system and is unprepared for independent living. There is a smaller percentage of former foster youth persisting through college and obtaining a college degree as compared to the general population (Casey Family Program, 2011). Statement of the Problem In efforts to support future former foster youth access and persistence through community college, this study examined what types of social capital contribute to a former foster youth's ability to access and persist through community college. The following questions were addressed: 1. How do former foster youth define the social capital that influenced them to access and persist through community college? 2. What types of social capital should be enhanced upon acceptance to community college? 3. In what ways can former foster youth independently gain the social capital needed to access and persist through community college? Methodology The researcher utilized a survey aimed at capturing the experiences and knowledge of former foster youth currently attending community college with regard to the social capital that assisted them to access and persist through community college. The author examined the types of social capital identified by former foster youth to determine common themes and specific sources of social capital. Conclusions and Recommendations This study concluded that former foster youth benefit from various sources of social capital within their network consisting of educational and child welfare supports. Through mentoring relationships and institutional support, former foster youth gather social capital that allows them the insight and knowledge to access and remain enrolled in college.

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