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Succeeding Alone: Avoidant Attachment Decreases Persistence and Completion for College Students With Foster Care Histories

Fri, April 13, 2:15 to 3:45pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Floor: Fourth Floor, Gilbert

Abstract

Although few college students had been in foster care in adolescence, these youth are an understudied student group at considerable risk of not graduating. Past traumatic experiences can have an enduring psychosocial impact, making foster youth more emotionally guarded and less willing to seek help (avoidant attachment). This paper analyzed data collected from a longitudinal study of foster youth in three Midwestern states, including over 330 youths who enrolled in college. Findings suggest that the more maltreatment and relational instability foster youth had experienced, the higher their avoidant attachment scores. In turn, higher avoidant attachment decreased the chances of persisting and earning a degree. The relationship was mediated in part by foster youths’ amount of social support after entering college.

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