The lived experiences of Black Male Foster Youth (BMFY) aged out of foster care : a phenomenological case study.
Black males who age out of foster care at 18 years of age often face challenges that they carry into adulthood. This phenomenological case study presents the experiences, barriers, and challenges of three emancipated Black Male Foster Youth (BMFY), with specific focus on self-sufficiency, higher education, and mental health. In the present study, self-sufficiency is defined as the ability to find and maintain employment, to obtain and retain independently funded housing, and to achieve financial independence without relying on welfare assistance (Gates et al., 2016; Hong et al., 2009; Morgen et al., 2010). Furthermore, the present study highlights that a foster care system that meets the needs of BMFY and enhances their self-sufficiency, significantly and positively impacts BMFY as they transition to adulthood. A case study methodology was used, employing several data collection instruments: interviews, questionnaires, researcher notes, and audio recordings of personal interviews. The primary research question that guided this work was: How do the lived experiences of BMFY impact self-sufficiency in adulthood? Data were analyzed using an a priori theoretical framework, influenced by Freire (2005) and Noddings (1995, 2013). A within-case analysis provided detailed profile case descriptions, followed by a cross-case analysis to identify themes across the three cases (Creswell & Poth, 2018). The present study yielded four main themes connected to the need for Critical Consciousness and care ethics within the foster care system for Black males in foster care. The experiences of the three interviewees revealed the need for purposefully targeted education and quality mental health services in order to raise self-sufficiency outcomes in adulthood. Findings from the present study affirm that social workers in foster care and caregivers must address the emergent factors that affect self-sufficiency, the factors that discourage youth from pursuing higher education, and the factors that impact mental health. The present study found that social workers and caregivers must meet the needs of BMFY using practices that are free of bias and utilize all-inclusive supports (such as positive relationships and consistency) in providing positive and purposeful support.