Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Catherine Compton-Lilly


In the past decade, research on children in foster care or adults with foster care backgrounds has begun to explore factors that contributed to successful trajectories. Little work has been done, however, on factors that can be controlled, such as resources and support offered by K-12 schools, or for K-12 schooling. In this qualitative study, I explored the beliefs and perceptions of former foster youth college graduates about the impact of K-12 experiences on their academic and life trajectories. After surveying and interviewing five former foster youth college graduates, I used narrative analysis to understand the impact of their K-12 experiences, and other factors during their time in foster care, that positively affected their matriculation into and graduation with a four-year degree from institutions of higher education. According to participants, the most significant K-12 factors that impacted their academic trajectories were relationships with teachers and coaches, opportunities for reading and writing, and access to extracurricular activities, particularly sports and the arts. Additionally, all participants described a notable turning point during high school, and they also provided recommendations for children currently in foster care.


© 2024, Amanda May Moon