Employment outcomes of former foster youth as young adults: The importance of human, personal, and social capital

Journal article

Hook, Jennifer L.
Courtney, Mark E.

Children and Youth Services Review, 33(10), 1855-1865

In spite of a prevailing policy focus, little is known about the employment outcomes of former foster youth during early adulthood and the factors associated with those outcomes. We explore how former foster youth who aged out of care in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa are faring in the labor market at age 24 and what explains variability in employment and wages for these youth. We utilize multilevel models to analyze youth's employment using four waves of the Midwest Study. Our findings point to a critical need to better understand and address barriers to education, causes of substantial racial disparities, and characteristics of family foster homes that facilitate youths' employment. We find that youth who remain in care past age 18 attain higher educational credentials which translate into better employment outcomes. This research also highlights the need for policies directed at current and former foster youth who become early parents.