It has been proposed that past traumatic experiences have an enduring impact on foster youths’ psychosocial functioning, which in turn compromises their ability to succeed in college. This paper investigates one such psychosocial characteristic, avoidant attachment, which is characterized by emotional guardedness and reluctance to rely on others for support. This webinar presents findings from a longitudinal study that followed several hundred foster youths in three Midwestern states for nearly 10 years. Two main questions will be explored. First, does past maltreatment and relational instability (school moves, placement changes) predict youths’ avoidant attachment? Second, does avoidant attachment hinder youths’ likelihood of persisting in college and earning a degree?
Nathanael Okpych is an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work. He also serves at the Project Director for the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH), a five-year study under the direction of Dr. Mark Courtney that evaluates the impact of extended foster care on youth outcomes. Dr. Okpych studies the transition to adulthood for foster care youth. His research focuses on postsecondary education outcomes, social support networks, mental health, and independent living services.
Fostering Success Michigan is a program of The New Foster Care that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline."Make a Donation