Date of Award

Fall 10-16-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Douglas DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Shalamon Duke

Third Advisor

Dr. Margaret Moodian


Purpose. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify and describe the institutional and noninstitutional sources of support that California female foster youth alumni perceive enabled them to successfully complete a graduate degree.

Methodology. The methodology of this study is a multiple-case study design with utilization-focused sampling to explore the information-rich stories of female foster youth alumni with advanced degrees. Semistructured interviews were utilized to collect data from all of the participants.

Findings. The data collection and analysis resulted in six themes for institutional supports: (a) financial aid, (b) academic resources, (c) mental health services, (d) academic advising, (e) informal faculty and staff social support, and (f) mentoring through faculty and staff. There were six themes for noninstitutional support: (a) social support; (b) family; (c) cohort, classmates, colleagues, peers, and study groups; (d) personal mentor; (e) financial contributions; and (f) friends. The institutional supports were grouped into four categories: (a) financial assistance; (b) academic resources, services, and support; (c) social support and network; and (d) emotional support. The noninstitutional supports were grouped into three categories: (a) social support and network, (b) economic resources, and (c) emotional wellness.

Conclusions. The conclusions indicated that although the participants utilized noninstitutional supports most to complete their degree, they explained that institutional supports are most needed among female foster youth alumni who aspire to obtain a graduate degree. The support that is most needed from the institution is financial assistance in the form of scholarships, stipends, and grants. The most needed noninstitutional support of female foster youth alumni to complete an advanced degree is social support and networks.

Recommendations for action. Recommendations for further research include conducting additional studies with all foster youth alumni with graduate-level degrees, capturing the lived experiences of foster youth alumni with advanced degrees, and tracking the value of a graduate degree within this population of individuals. Action items include removing time and age limits from funding provided to foster youth alumni, developing programs at the graduate level for foster youth alumni, and connecting foster youth with caring adults upon their arrival in the child welfare system.