• Independent Living Programs and Changes in Resilience of Transition-Age Foster Care Youth

      Lee, Sang Jung; Harrington, Donna (2016)
      The transition to living independently is a challenge for youth who have been living in foster care. Independent Living Programs (ILPs) are designed to help transition-age foster care youth. However, limited rigorous examinations have been done. Therefore, this study aims to examine the relationship between Independent Living Programs and resilience among transition-age foster care youth. The social ecology of resilience was used to guide the secondary analysis of a sample of 917 transition-age foster youth from three ILPs of the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs (Chafee Independent Living Evaluation Project, 2001-2010). Multilevel analyses were used to examine the impact of each ILP on resilience and the role of ILP participation on resilience in the social environmental contexts of transition-age foster care youth. The three ILPs examined in this study did not outperform services as usual. In addition, participation in the three ILPs did not significantly predict changes in resilience after controlling for individual and social environmental factors. However, gender and externalizing behavior problems at the individual level significantly predicted change in resilience. Compared to male youth, female youth presented greater positive change in resilience. When youth had lower levels of behavior problems at baseline, they were more likely to improve on resilience. Social support was the only significant predictor of change in resilience at the micro-system level; when youth had higher levels of social support at baseline, they were more likely to improve on resilience. At the meso/exo-system level, foster parent support, community participation, and child welfare status were found to be significant predictors of resilience change over time. Youth with higher levels of foster parent support were more likely to improve on resilience. Youth who participated in a community organization at baseline were more likely to increase resilience over two years. Youth in the child welfare system demonstrated higher levels of resilience than youth discharged from the system. The findings of this study underscore the role of child welfare social workers, foster parents, and the child welfare system in preparing youth for independent living.