Improving the Employment Outcomes of Rhode Island Foster Youth: A Successful Transition into Adulthood


Political Science


Jensen, Scott

Advisor Department

Honors Program


Pearson-Merkowitz, Shanna

Advisor Department

Political Science




foster youth, employment


Finding sustainable employment with a living-wage can be a feat for anyone, but is particularly challenging for former foster youth. Rhode Island youth who were in foster care, specifically those who exit the system without reunification or adoption by the age of eighteen, are vulnerable to dismal short-term and long-term employment outcomes in their transition into adulthood. Without eliminating the employment barriers these youth face, former foster youth will continue to experience bleak life outcomes including high rates of incarceration, pregnancy, and homelessness.

This project seeks to understand the aforementioned employment outcomes of former foster youth through mechanisms of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Through administering interviews, utilizing best practice models of comparison, and research, this projects aims to illuminate the vast array of employment challenges while providing recommendations and strategies on how best to improve these outcomes for former foster youth in Rhode Island.

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