For the past 20 years, there has been increased attention to the circumstances under which young adults leave the foster care system when they achieve age-defined adulthood. In the United States, this is referred to as “aging out” of foster care. Typically, these young people did not benefit from a reunification with their family or a permanent family situation with kin or through adoption.
Macro Perspectives on Youths Aging Out of Foster Care offers an extensive look at the issue through a “macro orientation.” Attempting to balance the primary focus on micro-systems, and consistent with a social work perspective, this book aims to provide a greater emphasis on the larger macro systems of society, policy, organization, and community. Successful or unsuccessful outcomes of the transition from foster care are heavily dependent on the processes and structures that make up the external environment. Youths exiting foster care may be especially influenced by the circumstances of the larger social context because they often lack the mediating advantages of a strong familial connection. After long stays in the foster care system, they may have limited support, skills, and resources required for a healthy, productive, independent adulthood.
This reorientation of focus to macro systems affecting the individual transition experience informs questions such as: What are the barriers to developing and implementing effective approaches? How can we bring more social attention to these youths? How might communities better support youths? To what extent should policy and program supports be designed specifically for this population, as opposed to a more expansive population of vulnerable youths (such as youths receiving child welfare services in their homes, or youths involved in more than one service system), or more general universal supports for all youths? Macro Perspectives on Youths Aging Out of Foster Care draws on research, theory, and practice to address these issues. The book is a useful resource for practitioners in child welfare and youth services, researchers, and policy makers.