Better Futures: a Randomized Field Test of a Model for Supporting Young People in Foster Care with Mental Health Challenges to Participate in Higher Education

  • Sarah Geenen
  • Laurie E. Powers
  • Lee Ann Phillips
  • May Nelson
  • Jessica McKenna
  • Nichole Winges-Yanez
  • Linda Blanchette
  • Adrienne Croskey
  • Lawrence D. Dalton
  • Amy Salazar
  • Paul Swank


The purpose of the study was to conduct a preliminary efficacy evaluation of the Better Futures model, which is focused on improving the postsecondary preparation and participation of youth in foster care with mental health challenges. Sixty-seven youth were randomized to either a control group that received typical services or an intervention group, which involved participation in a Summer Institute, individual peer coaching, and mentoring workshops. Findings indicate significant gains for the intervention group on measures of postsecondary participation, postsecondary and transition preparation, hope, self-determination, and mental health empowerment, as compared to the control group. Youth in the intervention group also showed positive trends in the areas of mental health recovery, quality of life, and high school completion. Implications for future research and practice are discussed, while emphasizing the capacities of youth in foster care with mental health conditions to successfully prepare for and participate fully in high education.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Geenen
    • 1
  • Laurie E. Powers
    • 1
  • Lee Ann Phillips
    • 1
  • May Nelson
    • 2
  • Jessica McKenna
    • 1
  • Nichole Winges-Yanez
    • 1
  • Linda Blanchette
    • 3
  • Adrienne Croskey
    • 1
  • Lawrence D. Dalton
    • 4
  • Amy Salazar
    • 5
  • Paul Swank
    • 6
  1. 1.Pathways to Positive Futures Research and Training CenterPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Portland Public SchoolsPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Portland Community CollegePortlandUSA
  4. 4.Oregon Department of Human ServicesPortlandUSA
  5. 5.School of Social WorkUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Innovative Thinking, IncHoustonUSA

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