Life Skill Acquisition Among Youth in Care Involved in a College Preparatory Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Social Work


Kathryn Conley Wehrmann

Mentor Department

Social Work


Over 23,000 youth, 18-21 years of age are legally emancipated, or “age out” of the foster care system annually (National Foster Youth Institute, 2017). Youth who age out of foster care are more likely to lack the support and skills needed to live independently, when compared to youth who have not been in care (Courtney, Lee, & Perez, 2011a; Kaplan, Skolnik, & Turnbull, 2009; Williams, 2011). Existing literature emphasizes the importance of the development of skills related to daily functioning, also known as life skills, for youth transitioning to adulthood. The current study explored the extent to which First Star Academy at ISU, a college preparatory program, increases life skills among current youth in care. The study also explored the extent to which First Star Academy provides social support to current participants. The study analyzed existing life skills data collected during First Star’s Summer Academy held June 3-30, 2017. Personal narratives entitled, “What does First Star Mean to Me?” were also analyzed. Findings suggest that First Star Academy enhances participant’s self-awareness of their personal life skills, strengths, and talents. Further, the agency contributes to youth’s emotional connections and perceived social support.



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