Experiences of young parents with foster care backgrounds during the COVID-19 pandemic

Svetlana Shpiegel, Elizabeth M. Aparicio, Marissa Ventola, Amara Channell Doig, Michelle Jasczynski, Genevieve Martínez-García, Rhoda Smith, Alexander Sanchez, Jennifer L. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unique challenges to parents of young children, due to the closure of schools and childcare centers, and increased caregiver burden. These challenges may be especially pronounced for youth with foster care backgrounds, as they lack critical support and resources to rely on during emergency situations. Objective: The purpose of the present study was to examine the experiences of these vulnerable young parents since the beginning of the pandemic. Participants and setting: Our study included 17 young parents ages 18–26, who had recently aged out of foster care or were currently in extended care. Participants were predominantly female, and Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC). Methods: Youth participated in virtual focus groups or individual interviews and described their experiences and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. A structured thematic analysis approach was employed to examine key themes in youths` accounts. Results: Analysis resulted in five major themes: (a) employment disruptions and economic hardships, (b) educational challenges for parents and children, (c) parental and child mental health concerns, (d) insufficient resources and barriers to service receipt, and (e) “silver linings”. Conclusions: Young parents with foster care backgrounds faced numerous challenges due to COVID-19 and struggled to access critical resources and supports. Implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105527
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Aging out
  • COVID-19
  • Foster care
  • Young parents


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