Fostering a Future: The Role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Social Support on Employment in Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Open Access
Caldwell, Catherine Marie
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Sandra T Azar, Thesis Supervisor
  • Frank Gerard Hillary, Honors Advisor
  • Foster care
  • PTSD
  • Social support
  • employment
Research on youth aging out of foster care is limited and rarely focuses on their outcomes in life. Not only are these youths starting out at a disadvantage without a stable home life or clear sources of support compared to other youth their age, they are also less likely to be employed and more likely to suffer from emotional disorders, only worsening their living conditions and potentially their outcomes in life. The present study explored the relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and employment status of these youths and also explored a potential mediation role for social support on this relationship. The sample studied were 50 young adults who have aged out of foster care or have been homeless prior to reaching adulthood. Those young adults who had more PTSD symptoms were expected to have low rates of employment. Social support was expected to buffer this link between PTSD and employment status. These hypotheses were tested using self-reported PTSD symptomology (PCL-5), perceived social support (MSPSS), and employment status at the time of the interview. Although the hypotheses were not supported, individual facets of social support were found to negatively correlate with PTSD symptoms. The results of this study may be useful for developing interventions for these youth.