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Dissertation

The experience of adolescents in foster care: A qualitative study

26 July 2002

Abstract

Adolescents in foster care confront unique challenges. The inherent developmental challenge of adolescence combined with the stress and complexities of living in foster care leaves adolescents in foster care vulnerable to experiencing difficulties. Most of the research on adolescents in foster care consists of retrospective, post placement studies. Little is known about the experiences of adolescents in the midst of their foster care placements. This study examined the subjective meanings and perspectives of adolescents residing in foster care to add to the understanding of their experiences. A phenomenological qualitative methodology was employed. Interviews were conducted with ten volunteer foster adolescents who had been living in traditional nonkin foster homes for at least one year. Results of this study were encompassed into an overarching theme: "Appreciating foster care while also struggling with challenges, longing for a family, maturing, and finding ways to cope." Insight into the unique experiences of adolescents in foster care was obtained, providing insight into how to better serve this vulnerable population.


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