Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Harriet L. Glosoff

Committee Member

Dana Heller Levitt

Committee Member

W. Matthew Shurts

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr


I conducted a qualitative study prompted from concerns of poor outcomes such as homelessness, lack of employment for youth who age out of foster care between the ages of 18 to 21 with limited to no material or emotional support. However, there are youth who age out of foster care and find themselves on a positive life-trajectory, but little is known about what helped them find their path in life and what helps them stay on this path.

I used a multiple case study design to learn from three participants who self-identified as being on a positive life-trajectory about what helped them reach their current place in life. Three interviews were completed with each participant, with each participant’s narrative analyzed separately. I then completed a cross-case analysis using Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory as the theoretical lens.

The findings of the study suggest that changes to the current foster care system are needed to help more youth who age out of foster care have positive outcomes as young adults. Counselors can help create this change by the work they do at each level of the ecological system.

File Format


Included in

Counseling Commons