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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Angelique Day
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Interdisciplinary Health Sciences
Title: An Examination of Post-Secondary Education Access, Retention and Success of Foster Care Youth
Dr. Kieran J. Fogarty, Chair
Dr. Amy Damashek
Dr. Amy Dworsey
Date: Friday, July 8, 2011 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
College of Health and Human Services, Room 2024
This dissertation assessed college access to and completion of post-secondary education among foster care youth using a mixed method approach. A qualitative action research approach was used to examine the challenges faced by a sample of foster care youth transitioning from high school from the perspectives of the youths themselves. Analysis identified eight major themes: desire for relationships with caring adults in and out of school; access to teachers who teach mandated high school curriculum with flexibility; opportunity to recover missing/lost credits; having basic resources necessary for public school learning; access to extra-curricular and after-school programs; personal safety on and off school grounds; access to mental health services; and a lack of independent living preparation. Recommendations from youth included the following themes: access to long-lasting adult relationships; access to caring and available teachers; and exposure to flexible teaching methods.
The quantitative analysis incorporated university data from one student information systems database. Logistic regression models were estimated to determine whether there was a difference in the likelihood of dropping out prior to degree completion between undergraduates who identified themselves as former court wards and other low-income, first generation college students after controlling for race and gender. Undergraduates who
had been in foster care were significantly more likely to drop out before the end of their first year (21% vs. 13%) and prior to degree completion (34% vs. 18%) than their non-foster care peers.
Results of the event history and discrete time hazard models, which compared foster care alumni college graduation rates to their non-foster care, first generation, low-income peers, indicated foster care students were less likely to graduate. Specifically, the effect was statistically significant during semesters 5, 10, 11, and 13. Overall, academic standing impacted graduation status. Students in poor academic standing (cumulative GPA of 1.99 or below) were less likely to graduate than students in good academic standing (cumulative GPA at or above 2.0); the difference in graduation rates between foster care students and their non-foster care peers was much larger among students in good academic standing.