AbstractsSocial Work

Utilization of transitioning services for foster youth

by Sandra Gutierrez

Institution: California State University – Sacramento
Department: Social Work
Degree: MSW
Year: 2015
Keywords: Transitioning foster youth; Utilization of services; Emancipating foster youth
Record ID: 2060684
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/138806


Many studies have been conducted that show foster youth experience negative short term and long term outcomes after they have emancipated from the child welfare system. When compare with youth in the same age range who were not in the child welfare system, foster youth experience homelessness, unemployment, contact with law enforcement and substance abuse issues and not be enrolled in higher education at much higher rates. As a result of these outcomes various services and programs were created specifically for transitioning foster youth in the hopes of easing their transitioning and increasing their rates of success later in life. Current research shows that there are factors related to the social worker that can affect the quality of service they provide to the youth on their caseloads. Factors such as caseload size, length of experience, and education can all have an impact on the knowledge of services and rates of referrals and utilization of services. This study focuses on the utilization of transitioning services for youth in the foster care system. Social workers working in the child welfare system in Sacramento County were surveyed about their utilization of services for youth preparing to leave the child welfare system. The survey included questions regarding the social worker???s educational background, work experience and ability to research services. The survey assessed for utilization of services in four areas: housing, employment, education and mental health. Questions in each area of focus centered around the frequency of utilization, the barriers to utilization and accessibility factors. This study found that there are three factors associated with utilization of services; the length of experience with the child welfare system, ability to research services and knowledge of available services. Sacramento County child welfare workers caseloads are higher than the recommended amount, however time constraints did not appear to be a significant barrier to utilization. Although transitioning foster youth were not directly surveyed, results from the social workers did not significantly show that the lack of foster youth participation as a barrier. Further research into the specific services available in Sacramento County could provide more data on what other factors may be associated with utilization and which factors may serve as obstacles. The results of this study showed that the social worker does play a key part in the utilization of services among transitioning foster youth.