Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Scot Headley, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Karen Buchanan, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Terry Huffman, Ph.D.


This narrative ethnographic study examined the help-seeking experiences of foster youth as they transitioned into adulthood in extended care. The purpose of the study was to understand whether foster youth in extended care report a period of continued support which assisted in the development of their adult roles, relationships, and the knowledge and skills to become productive and satisfied adults. Survivalist Self-Reliance (Samuels & Pryce, 2008) asserts foster youth viewed their adult identities as grounded in independence and standing on their own, or are foster youth influenced by the relationships and the network of support embedded in the extended-care network which aligns to the assumptions of Relational Cultural Theory (Jordan, 2017). Themes identified during the analysis process included: (a) Youth felt responsible for their own development and safety while also disconnecting from the people in their lives; (b) Participant’s lack of trust in others led to difficulty asking for help and balancing life’s challenges; and (c) A lack of growth-fostering relationships. Implications from this study suggested opting into extended care provided the financial and housing support needed for foster youth. However, participants did not view extended care as offering relational support due in part to their view of adults as self-reliant. With limited social supports in place, participants struggled to balance life’s commitments. This study offers suggestions for future research focused on extended-care programing for foster youth.

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