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Exploring the Relationship between Foster Care Experiences and Social Network Engagement Among a Sample of Homeless Former Foster Youth

  • Yoshioka-Maxwell, Amanda
  • Rice, Eric
Published Article
Children and youth services review
Publication Date
Jun 06, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105132
PMID: 32699459
PMCID: PMC7375458
Czech Digital Mathematics Library
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Introduction: Recent research has begun to demonstrate high rates of poor behavioral health outcomes among homeless former foster, but with relatively little attention in the scientific literature. Because social networks have been shown to impact behavioral health outcomes, we need to better understand the network characteristics of homeless young adults with a history of foster care. Methods: Data were collected from 184 homeless former foster youth at a drop-in center in Hollywood, California. A series of logistic regressions were conducted for network engagement behaviors that may be impacted by foster care experiences. Results: Youth were largely African American, Latino, and Mixed race, approximately 22 years old, and majority male. Significant results from the logistic regressions indicated that youth experiencing homelessness for the first time before exiting foster care were more likely to have alters engaging in condomless sex, and youth with higher numbers of foster care placements were more likely to have alters engaging in methamphetamine use. Conclusion: These results suggest that certain foster care experiences impact the types of alters with which youths engage. Time spent in placement was significantly associated with alter behaviors, evident from homeless experiences and multiple foster care placements, negatively impacting the types of alters with which youths are connected, and thusly the risk factors for the youth themselves. Frequent network disruptions may be associated with engagement with risky alters. Included are intervention-based implications for providers as well as structural-based implications for child welfare systems.

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