Abstract: The Influence of COVID-19 on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and IPV Help-Seeking Among Young Women Formerly in Foster Care Living in Arizona (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

14P The Influence of COVID-19 on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and IPV Help-Seeking Among Young Women Formerly in Foster Care Living in Arizona

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ijeoma Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya, PhD, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, AZ
Malorie Ward, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Alexandra Almeida, PhD, Doctoral Candidate, San Diego State University, CA
Ann Turnlund-Carver, MSW, Research Specialist, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Kristin Ferguson, PhD, Professor, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Kaitlin Dick, MSW Student, Arizona State University, AZ
Background/Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is disproportionately high in Arizona, and trends in the United States suggest IPV may have worsened under pandemic conditions. Social distancing protocols created additional barriers for IPV victims to leave violent relationships and/or use traditional supports. Conversely, policies responding to COVID-19 (e.g., Consolidated Appropriation Act) and increased IPV education and outreach activities during COVID-19 may improve victims' support options. We explored the potential impact of COVID-19 on IPV risk among foster care alumnae living in Arizona. Three questions guided our study: 1) What is the rate of IPV among former foster youth before versus since COVID-19?; 2) How do former foster youth who experienced IPV perceive access to IPV help before versus since COVID-19?; 3) What foster care characteristics are associated with IPV post-COVID-19?

Methods: We used a cross-sectional design, collecting data over 4 months from an online survey launched June 2020. Participants had to reside in Arizona, be a woman, age 18-24, and foster care alumna. After removing ineligible participants and low-quality data (e.g., outliers based on Mahalanobis distance score), our sample included 201 participants. Survey questions asked about foster care experience, IPV and IPV help-seeking, mental health, and demographics. We conducted descriptive and multinomial logistic regression analyses.

Results: On average, participants were age 21.5 (SD= 1.7); 95.2% had no children. Slightly over three-fifths (66.0%) identified as white and currently in a relationship (64.2%). Most had temporary (50.0%) or full-time (40.1%) employment.

Time in care ranged from 1-16 years (M= 6; SD= 4.1). Participants experienced, on average, 2 (SD=0.9) foster care placements, with most (61.7%) being kinship placements. Approximately two-fifths (41.3%) of participants turned age 18 while in foster care (i.e., "aged out").

Overall, 14.9% of participants reported no IPV since COVID-19, 11.9% IPV since COVID-19, and 73.13% no IPV before or since COVID-19. Nearly half (48.8%) reported experiencing more anxiety, depression, or stress since COVID-19.

Among those reporting IPV since COVID-19, 41.7% reported more IPV than before COVID-19, 50.0% less than before, and 8.3% the same as before. Further, most of these participants perceived finding professional IPV help since COVID-19 to be either less difficult (70.8%) or no different (20.8%) than before. Similarly, 62.5% perceived IPV help from family and friends to be less difficult since COVID-19; 20.8% the same as before.

Participants with an IPV history were significantly less likely to report IPV since COVID-19 if they aged out of foster care (RRR= 0.4, 95% CI= [0.004-0.318]).

Conclusions/Implications: Results demonstrate resilience among young women formerly in foster care who experienced IPV. Many of these young women reported less difficulty finding help for IPV since COVID-19, which could explain why half also reported experiencing less IPV. Arizonian youth who age out of foster care may be lower-risk for IPV, given the State's extended foster care services and the Consolidated Appropriation Act, which provides COVID-relief funds for foster youth until age 27. Unfortunately, these funds are time-limited. Permanently establishing these funds and related efforts could help decrease IPV risk among former foster youth.