Instability in the lives of foster and nonfoster youth: Mental health impediments and attachment insecurities

the NYTD/CYTD Research Group

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18 Scopus citations


Foster youth are at risk for negative mental health and psychosocial outcomes, including when they are on the brink of emancipation from care into self-sustained adulthood. Factors believed to affect outcomes among foster youth include residential and school instability. Although frequent moves to new homes and schools are common for youth living in poverty, instability for foster youth involves not only changing homes and schools but often also changes in caregivers, thus putting foster youth at risk for disrupted attachment relationships. For the current study, structural equation models examined links between instability, mental health problems, and attachment insecurities in foster and at-risk nonfoster youth. A model containing instability provided a better fit to the data than a model containing foster care status only. Group comparisons revealed that instability was associated with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms for foster but not nonfoster youth. Implications of instability in the lives of foster youth are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Attachment
  • Foster youth
  • Mental health
  • Residential instability
  • School instability


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