Methods: Data comes from the VOYAGES project, a longitudinal study of older foster youth (n=404) in the care and custody of the Missouri Children’s Division. The present study focused on the self-identified black or African American foster youth who completed the baseline and sixth interviews (n=153).
Background characteristics assessed at baseline included in linear regression analysis were: gender, past year mental disorder, lifetime mental disorder, age at entry into care, number of times placed in care, time in current placement, and placement type.
Racial socialization was measured by the Teenager Experiences of Racial Socialization Scale (TERS; Stevenson, Cameron, Herrero-Taylor & Davis, 2002) in the 6th interview. The TERS assesses the degree to which youth receive socialization messages about the management of racism, pride in their culture, and spirituality.
Results: Results indicated that the socialization message experienced to a significant greater degree than all the others was cultural pride reinforcement. Cultural endorsement of the mainstream was the socialization message reported significantly less than all the others. The only background characteristic that was significantly related to the overall experience of racial socialization (total mean score) among Black youth transitioning from foster care was length of time in their current placement. Being in their current placement 13 or more months was related to greater racial socialization experiences than a current placement length of 0 to 6 months. Interestingly, the type of placement was not significantly related to older youth’s racial socialization experiences.
Conclusions and Implications The finding indicating that being in a placement for 13 or more months was related to increased frequency of racial socialization experiences suggest that the unbroken and consistent foster care of a relative, non-relative, or treatment facility is advantageous for this process to occur. Research among other samples of older Black youth and young adults indicate that socialization messages highlighting pride in their culture is related to resiliency (e.g., Brown, 2008). As such, the association of racial socialization messages to psycho-social outcomes among transitioning foster youth is a pertinent area of exploration