Topic Network Research Summary: Aging Out of Care

The Aging Out of Care Topic Network (TN) provides a community of support for scholars, researchers, practitioners, and advocates investigating and promoting best practice for youth aging out of foster care. During the past year, our TN grew from just 4 members to 24 members, half of whom joined after the October 2015 SSEA Conference. We want to extend thanks to all of the TN members who presented at the 2015 SSEA Conference and joined together to strategize the purpose and functionality of our group moving forward. One of the outcomes of this that we are especially excited to share is that older youth in care and those formerly in care are welcome to join the TN! If you are interested in finding out more about our TN or would like to join, please email the TN co-chair, Allison Thompson (

During the SSEA Conference in October, members of our TN gathered for an interactive discussion panel designed to facilitate dialogue around the role of social support for EAs transitioning out of foster care. Panelist Johanna Greeson from the University of Pennsylvania presented her work related to Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere (C.A.R.E.), a novel intervention designed to support naturally occurring mentoring relationships among aging out youth (see Panelist Varda Mann-Feder from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada discussed her recent research, which sheds light on the importance of and challenges associated with securing and fostering peer relationships for young people in care.

In addition to the panelists, Steve Rios, from Rios Research & Evaluation, shared about his collaborative research with Educate Tomorrow, a specialized mentoring program headquartered in Miami, FL that supports young people with histories of foster care in successfully attaining their educational goals. Emerging adults from Educate Tomorrow participated in several of the SSEA Conference sessions and met with conference presenters and participants. Following these rich interactions between the youth from Educate Tomorrow and the members of our TN, as well as in response to the field’s charge to involve EAs as our partners, co-researchers, or as consultants (Forenza & Happonen, 2015) , we invited several emerging adults who are foster care alumni to join our TN. Engaging these young people as part of the TN provides a forum for authentic EA involvement, input, and support so that we can continue to better understand and work to improve factors related to the well-being of former foster youth.

This past fall also marked the release of the 2016 Oxford Handbook of Emerging Adulthood, which includes a chapter entitled, “Aging Out of Care During Emerging Adulthood.” The chapter describes the challenges that a vulnerable subpopulation of emerging adults across continents encounter when they are forced to exit foster care and adopt adult roles and responsibilities without the family support afforded to the majority of their non-foster peers. The chapter describes the approaches of various countries in attempting to address this social problem, highlighting research and practice recommendations aimed at promoting better social support networks and relationships with caring adults for youth in and aging out of foster care.

*Forenza, B., & Happonen, R.G. (2015). A critical analysis of foster youth advisory boards in the United States. Child & Youth Care Forum.  DOI: 10.1007/s10566-015-9321-2

 October, 2015 Latin America

This month is the second installment of our spotlight on the Topic Networks, in which we showcase the activities of specific TNs. This month, the focus is on Latin America.

Chair: Alicia Facio, Universidad Nacional de Entre Ríos (Argentina)
Co-Chair: Luciana Dutra-Thomé, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

The Topic Network (TN) on Latin America aims to build a more integrated and consistent picture of the phenomenon of emerging adulthood in Latin America. We invite all scholars to join us in our meeting during the SSEA Conference, open to all colleagues who are studying emerging adulthood in Latin America. If you are interested, send an e-mail to The goal of the meeting is to plan future activities and publications together.

Currently, our TN counts on 16 members from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and United States. The plurality of countries and thematic within the TN on Latin America are challenging and exciting. Challenging because we still have a lack of investigations with representative samples in different countries within Latin America, and we are working hard to gather data on this topic. It is exciting because we enrich the possibility of not just exchanging with members of our TN, but also share ideas with other TNs of SSEA, such as Work and Career, Prevention and Intervention, Study Abroad, and Romantic Relationships.

Our current themes of investigation are:
• Love relationships, residential status, and with the Five-factor Model of Personality in emerging adults (Argentina)
• Socioeconomic status, Social skills, Protective and Risk factors, Future Goals, and Friendship (Brazil)
• Migration (Mexico)

Upcoming book in 2016: Luciana Dutra-Thomé, Susana Nuñez, Anderson Siqueira-Pereira and Silvia Helena Koller are organizing a book about emerging adulthood in Brazil. We count on investigations in both urban and rural areas, and we access the reality of medium high and low income emerging adults living in protected or vulnerable conditions. We consider important bringing this contextualization, taking into account that emerging adulthood is a non-universal phenomenon, affected by the variability within and between countries.

SSEA Conference 2015: members of our TN will present one symposium and four posters about emerging adulthood in Brazil, more specifically about Socioeconomic status, Social skills, Protective and Risk factors, Future Goals, and Friendship. We will also present two open papers Argentineans emerging adults about Change and Stability in Global and Domain-specific Self-evaluations and the Five-factor Model of Personality.
We definitely expect to expand the study of emerging adulthood in Latin America and share our results with the scientific community. We count on you!

July, 2015 Work and Career

This month is the first installment of a spotlight on the Topic Networks. Each newsletter, we will showcase the activities of a Topic Network, beginning this month with the Work and Career TN.

The Work and Career TN is a diverse international group of academics, professionals, and practitioners who are interested in emerging adult work and educational experiences and in the multiple transitions related to these important choices. The Network Chair is Anne Marshall, Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Co-Chair is Tammy Halstead, Director of Alumni Advising and Development at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, USA. Tammy’s dissertation study is featured below. Check out our blog and join us!

TN members are presenting symposia, papers, and posters at the Miami conference, for example the international Road to Happiness symposium chaired by Jennifer Symonds that is focused on career transitions of emerging adults in Finland and England. It queries how their mental health, life satisfaction and work engagement are related to experiences of studying, training, working, being unemployed or taking a gap year, and to previous school factors. Researchers from Finland, Germany, the US and Australia applied theories of lifespan control, stage-environment fit and job demands and resources.

Last year, TN Co-Chair Tammy Halsted defended her dissertation, entitled, “An exploration of career transition self-efficacy in emerging adult college graduates.” (The full text is available at!) Tammy’s mixed-method study sought to better understand the college to career transition experience of emerging adults and to explore the relationship between perceived adulthood and career transition self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is an important factor in college transition because it has been shown to be a predictor of workforce success. Participants were 1,252 emerging adult college graduates, aged 18 - 29 at the time of graduation, who completed undergraduate degrees at one of four public or private colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Participants completed the Career Transition Preparedness Scale. This measure’s Self-Efficacy sub-scale includes items related to Navigating Work Responsibilities, Developing a Support Network, Progressing in a Chosen Career Path, and Understanding Workplace Culture. A Perceived Adulthood sub-scale includes items such as “Do you feel like you have reached adulthood?” and “Do you feel like you have a clear concept of your personal identity?” Ten participants were also interviewed in depth about their college to career transition experience.

Significant predictors of higher career transition self-efficacy included reported feelings of “being adult” and attendance at a public (compared to private) college or university. In addition, starting college at a later age was suggested to have a positive impact on the transition from college to career.

Analysis also yielded specific suggestions for how colleges and universities can support graduates through the transition process: encouraging mindful interactions between faculty/staff and students, having more internship, externship, and career training program options in the curriculum, utilizing self-efficacy assessments to identify students and graduates in need of additional support, and providing specific information about job titles and career requirements.

Other recent articles of interest include the following:

Cox, G. R., et al. (2014). Practical considerations community context in a declining rural economy and emerging adults’ educational and occupational aspirations. Emerging Adulthood, 2(3), 173-183. Qualitative interviews and survey data show that social and familial connections, attachment to place, and economic environment are linked to rural EA educational and occupational experiences and aspirations.

Fan, W., et al. (2014). Contributions of family factors to career readiness: A cross‐cultural comparison. The Career Development Quarterly, 62(3), 194-209. An examination of perceived family intrusiveness to career decision-making difficulties among Hong Kong and US students.

Konstam, V., et al. (2015). Career adaptability and subjective well-being in unemployed emerging adults. A promising and cautionary tale. Journal of Career Development, 1-15. Unemployed EA emerging adults with higher levels of control and confidence had higher life satisfaction.

Olson, J. S. (2014). Opportunities, obstacles, and options: First-generation college graduates and social cognitive career theory. Journal of Career Development, 41(3), 199-217. SCCT considers the influence of contextual supports and barriers relating to the ongoing career development of FGC students after they graduate.

Seiffge-Krenke, I., et al. (2014). Work and love during emerging adulthood. Introduction to the special issue. Emerging Adulthood, 2(1), 3-5. This special issue includes five studies examining work and love transitions simultaneously using longitudinal designs.