Independent living services and the educational motivation of foster youth

Osarumen Rachel Eriamiatoe, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the components of independent living training and services to determine their effectiveness in preparing foster youth in Tennessee for adulthood, and whether the youth's perceived effectiveness of these services affected their educational motivation. Support factors (i.e., family, financial, social and emotional), which may have contributed to the emancipated youths' educational motivation, were also explored. Nine post-custody youth from different regions across Tennessee, who were enrolled in 2-year or 4-year higher education institutions at the time of the study, were interviewed. Among the major findings of the study is that although foster youth receive independent living training prior to turning 18, a majority of their independent living skills develop over time in day-to-day experiences with foster parents and group home staff. Another finding was that independent living training and services were not factors in the youths' educational motivation. The study revealed that foster youth do have opportunities to learn independent living skills in classroom-type settings, but it does not seem to be sufficient. The researcher's attempts to gather the youth's perspectives on their effectiveness in preparing them for adulthood, was not substantiated. The study showed that a significant factor in their overall success as post custody youth is the foster care experience in general. The youth reported that experiences in regard to daily living, work and study habits, money management, and employment readiness effectively prepared them for adulthood. The youth's experiences while in foster care not only impacted their decisions to continue on with higher education, but also influenced what career paths they were going to take. The study revealed that family and social support, while in foster care, influenced the youth's education decisions; financial support that the youth expected to receive also had an impact. Policy and program recommendations were given, as well as suggestions for future research.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Social work

Recommended Citation

Osarumen Rachel Eriamiatoe, "Independent living services and the educational motivation of foster youth" (2011). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3487553.