The Social and Emotional Needs of Alumni of Foster Care Post-College

Peggy Kelly, Fordham University


Attaining a college degree is an important milestone in anyone’s life, and for alumni of foster care, it is an accomplishment that particularly highlights their strength and resilience, as well as their ability to overcome challenging circumstances. Little is known, however, about the achievements of alumni of foster care after they earn their college diploma. The present study sheds some light on this by examining the post-college experiences of a group of college graduates with foster care histories (N=241). More specifically, the study explores the role that social and emotional supports formed during their college years play in achieving successful outcomes, such as acquiring a full-time job, earning a living wage, not receiving public assistance, and maintaining general perceptions of financial satisfaction and happiness. Among the social and emotional supports analyzed are having supportive family and friends, relationships with caring adults, rapport with the college community, and greater social involvement at the college. The findings from the study are mixed, with some social and emotional supports showing to be predictors of post-college success. In particular, the odds of perceiving themselves as happy were greater for respondents who had higher levels of social support while they were in college, and the odds of receiving public assistance were lower for individuals who frequently socialized with other students during their college years. Having rapport with the college community also contributed to positive outcomes in terms of avoiding reliance on public assistance and being satisfied with the financial situation. These findings reaffirm the importance of social and emotional supports formed during college in achieving positive outcomes post-college, particularly as it relates to emotional well-being. Ongoing social and emotional supports for alumni of foster care college graduates are called to provide them assistance as they navigate their way to a successful future.

Subject Area

Social work|Higher education|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Kelly, Peggy, "The Social and Emotional Needs of Alumni of Foster Care Post-College" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28151037.