The first longitudinal study in Florida that will follow foster youth aging out of state care is recruiting participants.
The Florida Youth Experiences Study will follow 325 foster youth for five years as they transition into adulthood and full independence. Similar studies in other states have helped inform policy decisions, said Martie Gillen, the study principal investigator and associate professor at the University of Florida in the department of Family, youth and Community Sciences.
“It’s a holistic approach to see what’s working, what’s not working, and how we can better help youth,” she said. “It’s elevating foster youth’s lived experiences to find out where people are falling through the cracks.”
Youth may struggle with finding housing, pursuing higher education, finding employment, managing physical and mental health, maintaining healthy relationships and social support, and managing birth family relationships, Gillen said. More than 700 youth age out of foster care each year in Florida, she said.
“What we know about youth who age out of foster care, many end up homeless and most don’t go to college. This study will help us find out why,” Gillen said.
Study participants must be 17 at the time they enroll in the study. Participants must be in out-of-home care under the Florida Department of Children and Families and must have been in care prior to their 16th birthday.
Youth will participate for five years, which will include one annual interview and three quarterly engagement surveys per year.
The study is open for enrollment until June 30. To learn more about the study, including how to enroll, visit the study website.
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries and all Florida residents.
For more information, go to ifas.ufl.edu .