Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Hui Huang

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Richard Beaulaurier

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Amy Paul-Ward

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Mario De La Rosa

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


public affairs, public policy, and public administration, public policy, race and ethnicity, social and behavioral sciences, social statistics, social welfare, social work, theory, knowledge and science

Date of Defense



The economic well-being outcomes of youth who are removed from foster care status due to reaching the age of ineligibility (i.e., age out) is an important issue in public health and social work. This study investigated the interrelation between simultaneously embodying both a sex and race/ethnicity (i.e., intersectional identity), circumstances experienced through age 19 (i.e., foster care experiences), and economic well-being indicators at age 21, using secondary administrative data from a 4-year longitudinal study (N = 4657). In terms of intersectional identity, findings indicated that intersectional identity was directly related to employment and postsecondary education outcomes. In terms of foster care experiences, findings indicated that experiencing homelessness, multiple placement episodes, and having a substance abuse referral on file, were directly related with each of the outcomes analyzed.

Circumstances known to be associated with employment and educational attainment status among youth who age out were also measured simultaneously, for testing mediation in three separate statistical models. Findings indicated that intersectional identities position youth to have higher or lower odds of being employed or attaining an educational credential by age 21, through material circumstances, and psychosocial circumstances, but not behavioral circumstances.

Collectively, these findings evidence that material circumstances (e.g., residential stability, rental assistance, food benefits, and transportation vouchers) are crucial to the employment and educational prospects of all youth who age out. Compared to non-Hispanic White males, several intersectional groups had greater odds of experiencing circumstances that impact their economic well-being prospects. At the same time, indirect effects were mostly observed among female-containing intersectional identities, due to lower odds of experiencing deleterious circumstances while aging out. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of changing the mechanisms that contribute to disparities in economic well-being among youth who age out, and emphasize the importance of leaning away from one-size-fits-all social work and policy practice.





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