This study presents the beliefs of three resilient African-American adolescent mothers transitioning from foster care into independent living in Illinois. Young mothers were followed for at least seven months as they participated in an innovative writing workshop for older foster youth. During this time, youth repeatedly initiated discussions of parenting while in foster care. Videotaped observations of workshops, in-depth, semi-structured individual interviews, and youth writing assignments yielded rich materials pertaining to parenting while in foster care. Young women identified a number of common challenges including financial difficulties, the pressure of meeting multiple obligations, stigma, and the negativity of some caseworkers. They also articulated cultural beliefs and practices which may support resilience. These included: the positive value placed on children and motherhood, spirituality, "other mothers" and various sources of community support, and an oppositional gaze. Implications for child welfare research and practice are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported by the Children and Family Research Center, School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, which is funded in part by the Department of Children and Family Services. The views expressed herein should not be construed as representing the policy of the University of Illinois or the Department of Children and Family Services. Additional support for Ms. Sachiko Bamba was funded through a research assistantship from the School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. We are grateful to those in the Children and Family Research Center writing group: Mark Testa, Tamara Fuller, Christina Bruhn, Joseph Ryan, Theodore Cross, Marin Nieto, Pedro Hernandez, Eun Koh and Jane Marshall, as well as Jan Carter-Black who read earlier drafts. We are also grateful to various staff members involved in the Illinois Pregnant and/or Parenting Program for courteously answering questions. And finally, a special thanks to the three young mothers of FYSH for graciously telling their stories.
- Adolescent mothers
- Foster care