Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Document Type



The purpose of this explanatory-descriptive study was to investigate the demographic, systematic risk, and systematic promotive factors that best predicted higher educational attainment among foster care youths and young adults who exit the foster care system. The researcher conducted a secondary data analysis on National Youth in Transition Data (NYTD) and child welfare administrative data collected by a child welfare agency in the southern region of the United States. The survey participants in this study consisted of a sample of 1,266 current foster care youths and 157 young adults who aged out of care between the ages of 14 and 22. Bivariate analyses of interrelationships were conducted to assess whether significant relationships exist between youths’ educational attainment and a host of demographic, systematic risk, and systematic promotive variables. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine the demographic, risk, and systematic factors that best predicted higher educational attainment. Binary logistic regression was also conducted to determine the factors that best predict likelihood of enrollment in postsecondary education among young adults who age out of care. Findings from the multivariate analyses revealed several variables as significant predictors of foster youths’ level of educational attainment including: race, gender, placement with a certified relative, receipt of postsecondary support, academic support, budgeting services, independent living needs assessment, and special education services. Receipt of postsecondary support was the strongest predictor of the higher educational attainment including enrollment in postsecondary education among the foster youths and young adult subsample. Directions for future research and implications for social work practice, policy, and child welfare administrators are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Monroe, Pamela



Included in

Social Work Commons