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Child Youth Serv Rev. 2012 Jan 1;34(1):43-49.

Stepping Down and Stepping In: Youth's Perspectives on Making the Transition from Residential Treatment to Treatment Foster Care.

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  • 1George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, One Brookings Dr., St. Louis, MO 63126.


Older youth preparing to emancipate from the foster care system are often served in residential treatment settings where they have limited opportunities to practice skills for independent living in a community setting. Stepping these youth down to less restrictive environments such as treatment foster care is a growing trend, especially for youth with mental health issues. Yet, few studies have explored the youth's perspective on making this transition. This study utilized qualitative interviews with youths who were participating in a treatment foster care intervention study (n=8) to gain their perspectives on the process of transitioning from residential care. Youths were interviewed right before they exited residential care and two months after placement in the new foster home. Youths reported hopes for gaining family in the new home as well as fears of placement disruption. Findings point to the need to enlist youths in discussion and problem solving about difficulties they anticipate in the new home and expectations for their relationship with the new foster parents. In addition, the struggles described after two months in the home point to the need for youths to build specific skills to better manage ongoing relationships with foster parents and for foster parent training on how to help build these skills.

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