Adapting to aging out: profiles of risk and resilience among emancipated foster youth

Dev Psychopathol. 2012 May;24(2):475-92. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000107.


This investigation employed latent profile analysis to identify distinct patterns of multiform competence among 164 emancipated foster youth (Mage = 19.67 years, SD = 1.12; 64% female). Fit indices and conceptual interpretation converged on a four-profile solution. A subset of emancipated youth evidenced a maladaptive profile (16.5%; n = 27), which was characterized by low educational competence, low occupational competence, low civic engagement, problematic interpersonal relationships, low self-esteem, and high depressive symptoms. However, the largest group of emancipated youth exhibited a resilient profile in which they were faring reasonably well in all domains despite marked adversity (47%; n = 77). Two additional groups evidenced discordant adjustment patterns wherein they exhibited high levels of psychological competence despite behavioral difficulties (i.e., internally resilient; 30%; n = 49) or significant emotional difficulties despite manifest competence (i.e., externally resilient; 6.5%; n = 11). The obtained profiles were validated against independent measures of behavioral and socioemotional adjustment. Exploratory analyses examined etiological differences across profiles with respect to child welfare variables, such as age at entry into care, placement disruption, reason for placement, and severity of child maltreatment. The findings highlight the need for multidimensional models of risk and resilience and illustrate the importance of heretofore underappreciated heterogeneity in the adaptive outcomes of emancipated foster youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult