The Effects of Youth Empowerment Programs on the Psychological Empowerment of Young People Aging Out of Foster Care

Tara Batista, Allen Johnson, Lindsay Baach Friedmann - Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research


Objective: This study examines the effects of youth empowerment programs (YEPs) on the psychological empowerment of young people aging out of foster care. Method: We used a two-group, cross-sectional survey to examine the effect of YEP participation on the psychological empowerment of youths aging out of Florida’s foster care system. The study sample consisted of 193 young adults (99 YEP participants and 94 non-YEP participants), ages 18–24. Four dependent variables represented the 4 dimensions of psychological empowerment: perceived control, motivation to influence, sociopolitical skills, and participatory behavior. Results: YEP participants experienced significantly higher perceived control, motivation to influence their environments, self-efficacy, and participatory behavior than non-YEP participants even when controlling for age at program entry, gender, race, time in foster care, number of placements, and geographic location. Conclusions: Findings suggest that youth empowerment is possible in child welfare systems and may be beneficial to young people aging out of foster care. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.