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The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the perceptions of former and current foster youth about the barriers they encountered during their K-12 education, and to learn how they overcame these obstacles and achieved academic success. The study included in-depth interviews of 11 participants, all of whom were current or former foster youth who were enrolled or had plans to enroll in a community college or 4-year university. The results of this study indicated that previously identified barriers to academic achievement were true for this group of participants, but that these topics or themes represented the effects of the deeper issues of anger, abuse, and disempowerment. This anger, abuse, and disempowerment touched every aspect of their lives, resulting in high mobility, Individualized Education Plans for emotional/behavioral issues, and difficulty transitioning from care to independence.


Originally published in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 29: 476–491, 2015

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