Methods: Data were a subsample of HYA (ages 18-24) with a history of foster care (n=221) in Denver (n=84), Los Angeles (n=81), and Austin (n=56). The dichotomous dependent variable was coded as 1 = negative educational outcomes (i.e., current school status as quit, dropped out, or suspended) or 0 = positive educational outcomes (i.e., graduated from high school, General Education Development [GED], or currently enrolled in high school or college/vocational/technical program). The predictor variable was the city in which the youth sought services (Austin, Denver or Los Angeles). Educational Resilience theory guided the selection of control variables, which included race/ethnicity, gender, age, arrest history, employment, substance dependency, neglect and abuse history, foster care placements, and length of homelessness. A logistic regression model was used to determine the likelihood of HYA experiencing negative or positive educational outcomes.
Results: The overall model fit was strong (χ2[df=18])=72.082, p<0.001). Results from the model (n=215) suggest that HYA from Denver (OR=0.04, p<0.001) and Los Angeles (OR=0.23, p<0.05) were less likely to experience negative educational outcomes than HYA from Austin. A higher probability of negative educational outcomes was associated with having prior arrests (OR=3.79, p<0.05) and experiencing emotional neglect (OR=1.87, p<0.05). A lower probability of negative educational outcomes was associated with being older (OR=0.64, p<0.01), being employed (OR=0.352, p<0.05), and experiencing physical abuse (OR=0.48, p<0.01).
Conclusions and Implications: This study found that HYA with a history of foster care in Austin reported higher levels of negative educational outcomes than HYA in Denver or Los Angeles. Additionally, negative educational outcomes were associated with various risk factors. These findings suggest that state tuition waivers for postsecondary education may not be enough to promote positive educational outcomes for foster youth who experience homelessness. Additional educational policies and programs that offer support services, promote school stability, and target youth who have been arrested are needed to address educational barriers and support this subpopulation of foster youth.