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Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Foster children-Psychology, Foster children-Sexual behavior, Interpersonal relations in adolescence, Foster care, Aging out, Relationships, Romantic, Intimacy


The present study was an exploratory investigation of how individuals who have aged out of foster care navigate romantic relationships in early adulthood. Previous research highlights the importance of supportive relationships to youth in care; this is often looked at through the lens of formal supports such as relationships with caseworkers or mentors (Ahrens, DuBois, Richardson, Fan, & Lozano, 2008; Augsberger & Swenson, 2015). The current study is the first of its’ kind to focus solely on foster youth’s romantic and sexual relationships, and the potential ameliorating effects of relationships for a population that has historically faced multiple challenges and poor outcomes. Nine participants completed a survey, and questions assessed respondents' levels of satisfaction and feelings of safety within their relationships, highlighted traits they value in a partner, and considered how individuals see romantic relationships fitting into their lives. Findings were discussed using an attachment and psychosocial identity development lens.




iii, 78 pages : color illustration. Includes bibliographical references (pages 54-62)