Homelessness during the transition from foster care to adulthood

Amy Dworsky, Laura Napolitano, Mark Courtney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Objectives. We estimated the incidence of homelessness during the transition to adulthood and identified the risk and protective factors that predict homelessness during this transition. Methods. Using data from the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, a longitudinal study of youths aging out of foster care in 3 Midwestern states, and a bounds approach, we estimated the cumulative percentage of youths who become homeless during the transition to adulthood. We also estimated a discrete time hazard model that predicted first reported episode of homelessness. Results. Youths aging out of foster care are at high risk for becoming homeless during the transition to adulthood. Between 31% and 46% of our study participants had been homeless at least once by age 26 years. Running away while in foster care, greater placement instability, being male, having a history of physical abuse, engaging in more delinquent behaviors, and having symptoms of a mental health disorder were associated with an increase in the relative risk of becoming homeless. Conclusions. Policy and practice changes are needed to reduce the risk that youths in foster care will become homeless after aging out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S318-S323
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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