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The transition status of youth departing residential care

Kathryn J Casey, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Residential settings are commonly thought of as the most restrictive placement along the continuum and are estimated to treat anywhere between 15% and 30% of the children and youth in out-of-home care. Many of these youth enter care with a number of unique risks (e.g., multiple previous placements and history of abuse). Although limited, available literature suggests that these youth experience negative outcomes post-discharge. Due to the risks and poor outcomes associated with a residential placement, it can be particularly difficult preparing these youth for their transition from care and into adulthood. In examining the literature on at-risk populations, five areas were commonly associated with youth experiencing future success during the transition to adulthood: education and employment goals, self-determination, social support, life skills, and hopefulness. These areas represent characteristics, skill sets, and resources that can promote success for youth in the future. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate characteristics related to a successful transition among youth from residential care. Specifically, this dissertation describes youth at departure in five areas: (a) education and employment goals, (b) self-determination skills, (c) social support, (d) life skills, and (e) hopefulness. In addition, this dissertation examined whether any significant differences in these areas existed between youth with and without a special education diagnosis. Differences in self-report and teacher ratings of youths' self-determination and life skills were also examined. Finally, because a number of admission (e.g., prior placements) and departure (e.g., length of stay) variables have been found to contribute to youth outcomes post-discharge, this dissertation evaluated which of the admission and departure variables were predicative of youths' skills in the five transition areas. Youth reported having plans regarding their transition from care (e.g., education and employment goals), specific concerns about leaving care (e.g., getting along with family), and planned to reunify with their families post-discharge. In regards to transition readiness, youth generally perceive themselves as having the necessary skills to be successful post-discharge. These results are discussed, along with study limitations, directions for future research, and implications for practice.^

Subject Area

Education, Special

Recommended Citation

Casey, Kathryn J, "The transition status of youth departing residential care" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3352338.