Psychological Empowerment and the Pursuit of Social Change: Outcomes of Foster Youth Engagement

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12 Scopus citations


Youth aging out of foster care are assumed to embody a disempowered group, for whom civic engagement opportunities are rare. Utilizing a targeted initiative, this study explores individual- and community-level outcomes derived from foster youth civic engagement. Data were collected via: (a) interview and survey research with foster youth advisory board leaders; (b) interview and survey research with civic youth workers; and, (c) non-participant observation of five foster youth advisory board meetings. Directed content analysis revealed three emergent themes, which transcended the data inductively (Opportunity through Access; Positive Conceptions of New Jersey's Department of Children and Families; and, Participatory Competence). These themes support and extend our current understanding of empowering outcomes for this population. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-290
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Public Child Welfare
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 May 2016


  • Civic engagement
  • aging out
  • psychological empowerment
  • social change


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