Examining Housing, Education, and Arrests During the Transition to Adulthood: The Importance of Supports for Marginalized Young Adults
Many disadvantaged youth lack the family supports that their peers experience during this period, either because they have been removed from their families, or because their families lack sufficient resources. This symposium presents three papers that examine the transition to adulthood for marginalized young adults, and articulate the critical importance of providing support to these young people and its effects on housing, postsecondary education enrollment, and arrests.
The first paper, “Leaving the Nest with No Return: Housing Patterns among Aged Out Foster Youth,” considers the housing patterns of a statewide sample of foster youth who have aged out of care. Unable to return to a parental home, as many of their non-former foster care peers do, the study sought to explore housing paths travelled by aged out foster youth. Housing instability was common among the sample, with comprehensive housing and support services helping to prevent greater instability from occurring.
The second paper, “What is the Postsecondary Education Achievement Process for Young Adults from Families with Low Levels of Family Capital?,” discusses a qualitative study of young people whose families participated in public or assisted housing that explored their thoughts and actions about their “possible futures.” Findings indicate that for education attainment, informal mentors played an important role in helping these marginalized youth, many of whom did not fully grasp the purpose and value of postsecondary education, to successfully apply and matriculate in college.
The third paper, “The Relationship between Extended Care and Arrests for Foster Youth during the Transition to Adulthood,” takes advantage of state policy differences to estimate the benefit of providing extended foster care, beyond age 18. Using data from a prospective, longitudinal study of youth aging out of care across three states, this study finds that extended care significantly reduces the risk for arrest during the first year, but this benefit declines thereafter.
Together, these three papers highlight the potential effects of providing supports to marginalized young adults with limited family support and resources, in stabilizing housing, increasing postsecondary educational attainment, and decreasing arrests during the transition to adulthood. Many marginalized youth who begin the transition to adulthood with limited skills and resources may focus on immediate survival rather than developing human capital. Establishing formalized, systemic support structures during the transition period would allow more marginalized youth to prepare for adulthood and help to prevent challenges associated with limited education, unstable housing, and arrests.