Opportunities for Positive Youth Development: The Organized Activity Participation and Educational Outcomes of Adolescents in Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Care

Ryan D. Heath, Keunhye Park, Sarah Faith Millward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children who grow up outside the care of their biological parents—e.g., those in adoptive, foster, or kinship (AFK) care—experience poorer educational outcomes than their peers. However, the protective factors that could mitigate any risks of AFK care have received less attention. One understudied area is the participation of AFK youth in organized activities (e.g., extracurricular or afterschool programs). Drawing on nationally representative data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (n = 16,197), this study used multilevel modeling to (1) examine the association of AFK care status with organized activity participation and with educational outcomes; and (2) examine whether such participation moderates any association between AFK care status and later educational outcomes (GPA, college expectations, college enrollment and college degree). In addition to a binary measure of participation, multiple dimensions of activity participation (i.e., type, breadth, and intensity) were tested as moderators. Findings show that youth in AFK care reported significantly lower rates of activity participation, as well as poorer education outcomes as compared to other youth. However, there was little evidence of moderation: organized activity participation was associated with improved educational outcomes regardless of care status. The possible benefits of participation for youth in AFK care are similar to those for other youth. Implications for the intersection of child welfare and educational systems are discussed, including the need to ensure developmental opportunities for youth in AFK care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Afterschool programs
  • Child welfare
  • Educational outcomes
  • Extracurricular programs
  • Nonparental care
  • Out-of-school time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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