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Dissertation

Information and solutions from the perceptions of persons in long- term foster care regarding the problem of attachment disorder is crucial for educators, social workers, and healthcare providers. They need to understand the psychological needs of these foster children so that they can provide better opportunities for these children in life. A twenty-year longitudinal published in the society of research in child development found that, “strong social support structures eight reduce the number or impact of negative experiences and thus increase stability’ (Waters, et al. 2000, p 688). Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to investigate adult foster children, eighteen years and over, and the nature of educational experiences, community experiences, and lived mentoring experiences and their relationship with phenomenological inquiry in foster youths’ transition to adulthood. This study will examine the foster adult group’s relationship between social experience and their quality of life as adults who have experienced long-term foster care.

The study will examine the adult foster children’s perceptions of their social experiences and relationships at school and other educational setting and compare their experience to their quality of current The perspective of this study is developed through Bowl and Insinuator’s separate but complementary contributions to Attachment Theory. These researchers revolutionized thinking regarding a child’s tie to the mother and it’s disruption through separation, deprivation, and bereavement (Brother, 1992).

Studies have shown that the relationship between an infant and caregiver provide the foundation or neurological development and the ability to form social bonds as adults (Hardy, 2007). The quality of early attachment relationships is correlated with future personality and brain development (Brother, 1992). The degree to which children are able to have their needs met affects their future relationships with other humans, and in essence, their level of social interest and ability to complete life tasks (Weber, 2003).

Attachment Theory formulates a social and biological behavior system. According to Insinuators and Bowl (1991), “it is an ethological approach to personality development. Behavioral systems are not only influenced by genetics, they are also sensitive to a child’s environment. Attachment theory, which has a survival function, asserts that humans need “security’ (Weber, 2003). The feeling of security is provided through love, touch, and warmth. Attachment theory undergrads the central role of relationships in our human development from the cradle to the grave.

Through this theoretical lens, this study focuses on adults who have experienced foster care and its effects on the formation of social relationships. This will provide a call for action to address important issues for children currently in ester care (Crewel, 2009). Significance of Study This study will explore struggles often experienced by children in foster care, and elucidate the need for strong policies at the county and state levels for their protection. This study is unique because it targets foster adults, who have had experience with these hard life lessons and are still standing, refusing to give up.

This study is a bridge for understanding the needs for people who grew up in the system. The social workers can work with children early on, before they age out of foster care, and make cautious decisions before placing them. School counselors can target specific issues that haunt them and help to prevent the development of non- functioning adults that statistically will end up homeless, in prison, in prostitution, and using drugs; this will help provide new laws for foster children.

Believing that with basic research available, the educational system, and educators will have better information on placing these children in classes that will better serve their educational needs. The healthcare system, law enforcement, and other community organizations can work hand in hand to ensure a brighter future for the children, ND for future generations to come. Most importantly, this will provide training for new foster parents. As an educator, and an evangelist, I am in a unique position to affect a lot of lives through the knowledge of this study.

This study may also serve as an outreach for a healing vehicle to the reader who may be looking for answers, or help to foster parents in developing a deeper level of understanding of their children. This study is limited to adults who grew up in foster care, and are currently over the age of 18. The study subjects will be geographically limited to residents of the Greater Los Angles Area. To participate in this study, subjects must have been placed in foster care and remain in foster care for more than 5 years.

Research Question What do adults who have been in foster care for more than five years perceive are the long-term effects of foster care on their social relationships? Definition of Terms The following terms are defined for use throughout this study: Adult Foster Child: An adult currently between the ages of 21 and 60, who entered the foster care system between the ages of O and 5, grew up, and aged out at age 18 (Bowl, 1982). Attachment Disorder: A disorder of mood, behavior, and social relationships that arise; an individual’s failure to form normal attachments in early childhood, up to age 5 (Mayo Clinic, accessed 2013).

Attachment Theory: This theory suggests that infants from O to 5 years old are evolutionarily primed to form close, enduring, dependent bond on a primary caregiver beginning in the first moments of life (Insinuators, 1989). Educator: Anyone in a child-supervisor role, including but not limited to, teachers, counselors, healthcare workers, and law enforcement officials (Bloom, 1997). Foster child: A child who is removed from the home and placed in foster care when the situation in the biological home becomes unsafe for the child’s continued residence from Tot 18 years of age Jackson, 2003).

Mentoring: A developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information, and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of someone else (Donaldson, Ensure, and Grant-Balloon, 2000). Protective Factor: A protective factor refers to anything that prevents or reduces vulnerability for the development of a disorder (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, accessed 013). Resiliency: An individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, accessed 2013).

Social Competence: An individual’s ability to interact successfully with peers and adults (Waters, E. , Grouse, L. , 1983) Social worker: The advocate who legally steps in as a liaison between the biological parents and the new placement home (National Association of Social Workers, Accessed 2013). Chapter 2 Literature Review Overview of Related Literature. The impact of early close relationships on psychological development is one of the enduring questions of developmental psychology that is addressed by attachment theory and research (Thompson, 2000).

According to research by Thompson, attachment theory has become the dominant approach to understanding early socio-emotional and personality development during the past quarter-century of research (Thompson, 2000). This literature review will present the meaning of attachment theory and its importance to relationships. The review will focus on attachment disorder development and educational lives of foster youth whose forced movement from school to school and home to home should affect sections elucidating Attachment Theory and Resiliency in foster youth.

These will be (1) the effectiveness of laws currently in place for foster care; (2) attachment theory; (3) the effect of educational experience, such as student-teacher relationships, athletics, and community service, on attachment development in foster youth; (4) the transition process of foster youth to adulthood; and (4) the use of mentoring as a protective factor for foster youth, giving hope and encouraging them, and as a model for healthy relationships.

Current Legal Trends in Foster Care With the governmental acceptance of parental obligation to the foster youth, comes the vital role of the legal system. The courts must approve permanency plans and permanent placements for the children in foster care; therefore court systems have a significant influence on achievement of permanency outcomes (2005, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, report to congress). However, a recent review of foster care adoption found that more than 84 percent of states reported barriers to adoption in the courts and legal systems (Macomb, et. Al. , 2004).

This included the reluctance of some Judges to terminate parental rights for children until a permanent family has been identified and delays in scheduling trials for orientation of rights (Fostering Results, 2004; Macomb et al. , U. S. D. HASH). Other court-related barriers include overloaded court dockets and a lack of cooperation between courts and child welfare agencies (2007, Pew Charitable Trusts). Evidence from many states demonstrates that providing an option for foster care until age 21 dramatically improves these outcomes (ABA 12 Bass, K. And Bella, California Fostering Connections to Success Act, 6/29/2010).

In other words, youth without stable family need an extra “leg-up” into adulthood. According to the Federal Foster Care Law, the “Fostering Connections to Success ND Increasing Adoptions Act” of 2010 is the most significant child welfare legislation in in more than a decade (http://www. Voices-SST. Org, Federal Foster Care Law. HTML, PILL This law, signed by the president in October 2008, makes major improvements in current legislation. Elucidated below are the five most critical areas. Support for Family Connections. This legislation increases opportunities for relatives to step right in when children are taken away from their parents.

Dodo this, the states must identify and notify all adult relatives within thirty days of assuming custody of the child. States can use federal funds for kinship-guardianship payments and clarifies that youth who leave foster care after age 16 are eligible for independent living services and education and training resources. This also requires the state to make exerted efforts to place siblings together (http://voices-SST. Org/ federal-foster-care-law. HTML, Cot 2008). Aid for Youth in Transition. This legislation means that states can extend care to youth aged 19 to 21 with continued federal support.

The child welfare agencies must help the youth to create a transition plan during the ninety days before the youth exits from the foster care system (http://www. Voices-SST. Org/federal-foster-care- law. HTML, Cot. 2008). States and adoptive families to support adoption. It focuses especially on older youth, and children with disabilities, or other special needs. This also increases opportunities for children with special needs to receive federally supported adoption assistance, without regard to birth family income level (http://www. Voices-SST. Org/ federal-foster-care-law. HTML, Cot. 2008).

Greater Health Care Services. This requires that state child welfare and state Medicaid agencies work together with other healthcare experts to create a plan to teeter co-ordinate healthcare for children in foster care. The plan will ensure appropriate screenings, assessments, and follow-up treatments. It will also assure the sharing of critical information with appropriate providers and oversight of prescription medications. This will help cut down inaccurate diagnosis, and putting foster children on unnecessary medication for behavioral problems better treated in other ways (http://www. Ices-SST. Org/federal-foster-care-law. HTML, Cot. 2008). Access to Education. The states must ensure that a child in foster care attend school. It also helps them remain in the same school as long as appropriate, and secures prompt and smooth transfers to a new school when they come into foster care or change placements while in foster care. This mandate for education will provide increased federal support for assistance with school-related transportation (http://www. Voices-SST. Org/federal-foster-care-law. HTML, Cot. 2008). Attachment Theory Attachment Disorder Defined.

Attachment theory, the Joint work of John Bowl and Mary Insinuators, began its developmental history in the sass with Bowls interest in maternal loss or deprivation. In the sass, Mary Insinuators Joined Bowls search. Out of this collaboration emerged “Attachment Theory Disorder,” a disruption of the child’s tie with the mother, and the mental defects that the child would subsequently suffer (Brother, 1992). The quality of early attachment relationships is correlated with future personality and brain development (Brother, 1992).

Bowl and Insinuators researched the link between maternal loss of deprivation, personality development, and security theory. According to Insinuators, attachment and security work hand in hand. She states: “Just when an infant feels afraid, his attachment behavior is likely to be activated (as ell as fear behavior), likewise when he feels secure, his attachment behavior may be at a low level of activation. ” (Insinuators, Blear, Waters ; Wall, 1978). Insinuators helped to expand Bowls theory with her concept of the attachment figure as a secure base from which an infant can explore the world.

According to attachment theory, an infant’s need for a committed care-giving relationship, with one or a few adult figures, is most central to healthy development (Brother, 1992). Many years of research suggest that deep psychological damage occurs in the infancy stage, if babies are separated from their mothers or primary caregivers Brother, 1992). Attachment theory is a descriptive theory. It does not claim to offer prescriptions for intervention or treatment (Hardy, 2007). More recent research 2007).

The diagnostic criteria for RADAR include a pattern of disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relationships. Studies have shown that the relationship between an infant and caregiver provide the foundation for neurological development (Hardy, 2007). Attachment disturbances are associated with psychopathology in childhood and adulthood (Hardy, 2002). Hardy explains that in any infant it is: “Particularly… The right hemisphere that will influence the infant’s irrationality and relationships with others throughout life.

Neural activity in the right hemisphere creates and maintains continuity of inner affective experience amidst external changes” (p. 28). So far, this study has been conducted only with children who have been institutionalized. The authors caution that these behaviors may not be found as frequently in non-institutionalized children, with more mild disorder attachments (Hardy, 2007). The majority of infants who are placed in foster homes have histories of neglect, abuse, parental drug abuse, and family instability (Dozier and Coastal, 1998).

According to these authors, such problematic care-taking conditions are associated with the development of insecure attachment strategies in infants. These same findings mirror the work of Mary Insinuators and John Bowl. Attachment styles of adults are often based on their attachment history (Keener and Mockery, 1998). One of Bowls primary goals in developing a modern attachment theory was to preserve what he considered Fraud’s genuine insights about close relationships and development (Waters, Merrier, Trouble, Cromwell, and Liberalism, 2000).

These included insights about (1) the complexity of social, cognitive, and emotional life in infancy, (2) underlying similarities in the nature of close relationships in infancy and adulthood, and (3) the importance of early experience (Waters, Merrier, Trouble, Cromwell, and Liberalism, 2000). Negative life events can alter a child’s life-paradigm, sending them on a dark, psychopathic road to adulthood (Waters, Merrier, Trouble, Cromwell, and Liberalism, 2000).

These negative life events can be defines as the (1) the loss off parent, (2) parental divorce, (3) life threatening illness of a parent or child, (4) parental psychiatric disorder that goes untreated, and (5) physical or sexual abuse by a family ember. As foster youth are vulnerable to many of these negative life events, they are also vulnerable to their ramifications; namely, the inability to form the relationship and social attachments necessary for a stable and successful adulthood (Waters, Merrier, Trouble, Cromwell, and Liberalism, 2000).

In addition to this, death of the primary caregiver can also be a condition for removal. This disruption, loss, unresponsiveness, or unpredictability of an attachment figure may produce anger, depression, anxiety and sadness, among other feelings in the foster child (Weber, 2003). Coastal and Dozier state that, “unfortunately, after suffering the loss of the primary caregiver, many infants in the foster care system undergo additional disruptions in caregivers as they are placed from home to home” (Coastal and Dozier, 1998).

Several studies have demonstrated that children who experience multiple placements suffer from poorer psychosocial development than their peers and more emotional and behavioral problems than children with stable placements (Brace and Alert, 1971; Banshee and Shin, 1978; Goldstein, Freud, and Soloist, 1973) and multiple placements may demonstrate inability to create positive social relationships n their adulthood.

Child and Adolescent Development as Related to Social Relationships Adolescence is a period of physical, emotional, and social growth in which a person matures from the dependence of childhood to the independence of adulthood (Allen, 2004). Psychologically, this is a difficult time for most teenagers (Allen, 2004). The transition faced by teenagers in the foster care system is further complicated by the many problems that often plague this population (Allen, 2004). Many studies have documented the importance of family connections and relationships to young people s they move through adulthood (2004, fostering results).

When a child is removed from his or her biological parent(s) and family and placed in foster care, the government accepts the parental obligation to address the many needs of the youth (California Welfare, 2009, ICE/SMS 9 SOCKEYE). Ideally, some of those needs are as follows: to have the opportunity to develop life skills necessary to navigate the social and work world, to be prepared to meet their financial needs, and to learn how to take on adult responsibilities such as education, career, meal-planning, and housing (Courtney, M. Dowry’s, A 2005).

These are important life lessons that need to be learned to prepare youth to become successful adults. Preparing to become independent and self-sufficient is difficult enough for youth who remain at home, in the care of their real parents. This can become an overwhelming experience for those who “age out” of the foster care system without having the support of stable, adopted parents (M. Allen, 2005, Aging out of Foster Care). Emancipated foster youth who “age out” of the system are those that move from foster home to foster home until the age of 18 without ever being place in a permanent home.

Youth that are emancipated at the age of 18 from foster care are known to have considerably more mental health challenges than others in the same age group (Courtney, Villain, Groan-Gaylord, and Enemies, 2001). There are numerous challenges that these youth face as they transition to adulthood (Courtney, Villain, Groan-Gaylord, and Enemies 2001). Some of these challenges are physical or sexual visualization, incarceration, or homelessness during that vulnerable time-period (Courtney, Villain, Groan-Gaylord, and Enemies 2001).

In order to achieve somewhat of a stable transition to adulthood, these older children must be placed in a permanent home before the age of seventeen (Allen, 2005). In a report to Congress on adoption, it was documented that youth who are emancipated from foster care without a permanent family are at risk for many poor outcomes (Allen, 2005). The Impact of Foster Care on the Educational Experiences on Fostered Youth Children in foster care comprise a population of students at great risk for school failure.

In a study by Bloom on educational experiences, foster youth reported more discipline problems in school and experienced more educational disruption due to hanging schools than their peers (Bloom, 1997). Changing schools is particularly disruptive to the education of foster youth because it reinforces a cycle of emotional trauma of abandonment and repeated separations from adults and friends (Waling, foster home to another, and from new school to new school (Settling, Weinberg, and She, 2010).

As a result of these traumas, foster youth often do not achieve the level of adult skill and maturity needed to live and act independently in the inherently adult world of higher education (Waling, 2005). In addition to lacking adult skills, ester youth often develop mental illness and emotional fragility that are significant barriers to higher education opportunities (Waling, 2005). Foster youth are more likely than their peers to struggle academically, socially, and behaviorally in a school setting (Settling, Weinberg, and She, 2010).

When compared with the school population as a whole, they have higher rates of absenteeism and disciplinary referral (Settling, Weinberg, and She, 2010). Investigators have documented that a high proportion of children in foster care are also in special education (Cozier and Birth, 2005). In conclusion, according to Bowl (1969), attachment theory explains how students used their positive relationships with adults to organize their experiences. Central to this theory is that students with close student-teacher relationships view their teacher as a “secure base” from which to explore the classroom environment (Brother, 1992).

In practice, students with this “secure base” feel safe when making mistakes and feel more comfortable accepting the academic challenges necessary for learning (Kaufman, 2012). Mental Health Issues Related to School Achievement The low rate of high school completion among foster youth is a reflection of the reality that foster youth generally do not do well in school (M. Courtney, 2004). Compared to their peers, foster youth have higher rates of tardiness, absence, and truancy. They are more frequently placed on probation and suspended or expelled from school (Pectoral, 2003).

They fail courses or repeat grades more often. They perform below grade level in reading and mathematics and have lower grade point averages and lower standardized test scores. Foster youth often fall behind early in their school years and never catch up (You, 2002). Many foster youth are diagnosed with serious mental or emotional conditions that significantly compromise their ability to be successful in school (Waling, 2005). For example, youth with emotional disturbances have the highest rate of dropping out of high school, and the least likely to graduate high school with a regular diploma.