|Institution:||The Chicago School of Professional Psychology|
|Keywords:||Social work; Educational psychology|
|Full text PDF:||http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10146407|
Foster youth, one of the country’s most vulnerable populations, are often told that their best chances for escaping the cycles of abuse and poverty in which their families may have been ensconced for generations is through the attainment of a college education. However, thus far, only approximately 3% of this population has succeeded therein. For the past 20 years, scholars attempting to help ameliorate this situation often focused on illuminating the barriers to college entry and retention faced by foster youth. Currently, researchers are beginning to explore whether in addition to overcoming barriers, helping foster youth to target and develop potential internal and external protective mechanisms might also assist them in mediating the negative effects of abuse, neglect, financial instability, mental health problems, lack of academic preparation, and inadequate support systems faced by so much of this population, in order to persist through college graduation. This study looked to provide support for existing hypotheses that protective factors such as self-efficacy and perceived social support may mediate foster youth’s college attendance and retention. Building on existing theory, the study additionally investigated whether an evolving construct, self-compassion, was also related to college attendance and retention for foster youth, in a significant-enough way to warrant incorporating self-compassion training skills into independent living skills training programs for teens and young adults from foster care. Hypothesized benefits associated with helping foster youth strengthen internal protective factors were assessed by using survey methodology to measure the extent to which a sample of foster youth in college reported significantly different levels of self-compassion, self-efficacy, and perceived social support than a similar sample of foster youth who did not attend college. The results of the study indicated that college students from foster care reported significantly higher levels of self-compassion and self-efficacy than foster and former foster youth who did not attend college. These results may serve to inform child welfare stakeholders of the potential benefits of including self-compassion training into independent living skills training programs for foster youth, so they may be better equipped to face the challenges of postsecondary education.