Method. Data and Samples: This study was based on a longitudinal analysis of data from the National Youth in Transition Database (FY2014 cohort). The sample consisted of 6,462 males and females residing in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Measurement: Criteria for resilience included school enrollment or employment at age 21, and avoidance of homelessness, substance abuse referrals and incarceration during the past two years (i.e., between ages 19-21). Risk factors included early parenthood, and histories of homelessness, substance abuse referrals and incarceration prior to age 19. Protective factors included having a high school diploma, employment experience and a supportive adult at age 19. Data Analysis: First, we examined the proportion of youths who met the criteria for resilience at age 21. Next, we performed a binary logistic regression analysis to evaluate the contribution of risk and protective factors at age 19 to resilience at age 21, controlling for youths` gender, race/ethnicity, and foster care status.
Results. About 47% of youths met the criteria for resilience at age 21, with significantly higher rates among females, Hispanics, and those still in foster care. Multivariate analyses revealed that female gender (OR=1.20, p=.003), Hispanic ethnicity (OR=1.19, p=.02), and having a high school diploma (OR=1.49, p<.001) employment experience (OR=1.88, p<.001), and a supportive adult (OR=1.31, p=.03) at age 19 were associated with higher likelihood of resilience at age 21. Conversely, exit from foster care (OR=.51, p<.001), having a child (OR=.63, p<.001), and reporting homelessness (OR=.33, p<.001), substance abuse referrals (OR=.64, p<.001) and incarceration (OR=.35, p<.001) prior to age 19 were associated with lower likelihood of resilience at age 21.
Conclusions and Implications. Contrary to the deficit-focused view of current and former foster youth, resilience was fairly common in this large, national sample. Limitations of the current study, and implications for the design of intervention strategies to promote competent functioning among these youth, will be discussed.