Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 51–64 | Cite as

Parenting Under Pressure: Experiences of Parenting While Aging Out of Foster Care

  • Lisa Schelbe
  • Jennifer Mullins Geiger


Youth “aging out” of foster care experience higher rates of adolescent parenting than their peers who have not been in care. Due to their history of maltreatment, high adolescent pregnancy rates, and poor psychosocial outcomes, youth aging out who are parents are a vulnerable at-risk group. This study examines the parenting experiences of 33 youth aging out (21 mothers and 12 fathers) using data from a larger ethnography. Field notes of observation and transcribed interviews of youth aging out who are parents were analyzed using open coding strategies. Findings show parents encountered challenges while aging out and parenting, yet they found joy in their children and strived to be good parents despite having limited parenting skills, few resources, and little support. Desiring a better life for their children and fearing their children would enter foster care, parents were motivated to improve their lives for their children. Implications are discussed.


Youth aging out Parenting Adolescents Care leavers Foster care Child welfare 



This study was funded in part by the Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-being.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State University College of Social WorkTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Jane Addams College of Social WorkUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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