|About the Book|
An estimated 550,000 children reside in kinship or foster care placements in the United States. These children are at particularly high risk to develop low self-esteem and self-image. Some studies have suggested that one indicator of positiveMoreAn estimated 550,000 children reside in kinship or foster care placements in the United States. These children are at particularly high risk to develop low self-esteem and self-image. Some studies have suggested that one indicator of positive self-image is the possession of a positive racial/ethnic identity. Research on the racial/ethnic identity development and racial socialization experiences of foster youth has been limited to social service providers accounts and the use of quantitative methods. The purposes of this qualitative study were to (1) explore how former foster care youth view their experiences of racial/ethnic socialization and racial/ethnic identity development while living with their families, as well as in same-race and transracial foster care placements- (2) identify helpful and difficult aspects of foster care that influenced participants views- and (3) gather recommendations on how social workers, foster care providers, and mental health professionals can address racial and cultural issues with foster care youth. Using a grounded theory approach, ten former foster care youth of different racial/ethnic backgrounds were interviewed in order to gather an understanding of these complex phenomena. Findings suggest that participants have unique attitudes toward their experiences of racial/ethnic socialization. Participants reported receiving inconsistent and, at times, contradictory racial/ethnic messages from their families, foster care providers and professionals, making the development of a positive racial/ethnic identity difficult. The former foster youth, interviewed in this study, believe that increased dialogue with foster care providers and professionals about issues of race and culture would benefit foster youths integration of the multiple messages they receive. This study provides clinical implications for ways individuals who work with foster youth can assist them in understanding and feeling connected to their racial/ethnic backgrounds. Suggestions for future research include further exploration into youths attitudes about their foster care experience, especially multiracial and immigrant youth, and the development of resources geared towards increasing foster youths awareness and appreciation for their racial/ethnic group.