Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Mary Armstrong, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Matthew Foster, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda M. Callejas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Miller, Ed.D.


academic success, campus-based support, foster youth, service utilization


Young adults with foster care experience encounter a number of challenges related to obtaining a college degree. To assist this population in reaching their academic goals, many colleges and universities have created campus-based support programs. These programs are designed to assist former foster youth through an array of services, which range from financial aid to mentorship. However, little is known about how these programs are designed or implemented, or how effectively they are meeting the needs of this population. This dissertation sought to build upon previous research that examined the barriers faced by former foster children who are pursuing a college degree. Additionally, it sought to contextualize previous literature on the effectiveness of support programs in promoting academic success. This exploratory study employed a mixed-methods design that primarily focused on qualitative data, gathered through in-depth interviews with both former foster youth pursuing a degree and with administrators of campus-based support programs. In addition to qualitative data, this study elicited quantitative data in the form of survey responses from foster youth. The survey questions focused on the protective and resiliency factors used by this population to succeed, along with data on academic success in the form of grade point averages. The qualitative data in this study found that campus-based support was considered accessible and utilized by students, but it was not the only resource that foster care alumni relied on to succeed. The qualitative data also confirmed the importance of having a program specifically designed to meet the needs of former foster youth. Both the student participants and the program administrators spoke of the effectiveness of engagement in campus-based support; however, the quantitative data gathered in this study did not show that the utilization of campus-based support or community based support had a significant influence on academic performance.