Conceptualizing the Step-Down for Foster Youth Approaching Adulthood: Perceptions of Service Providers, Caseworkers, and Foster Parentsedit
Studies find considerable movement between residential treatment and less restrictive foster home settings, with approximately half of foster youth who are stepped down eventually returning to a higher level of care. Very little is known about the step down for foster youth who are approaching adulthood in locked residential facilities. A qualitative study of stepping down a small sample of foster youth, as perceived by team members delivering a model of treatment foster care, is presented. These findings reveal the dimensions of stepping down foster youth at the onset of adulthood, and highlight the importance of providing foster youth with developmental opportunities to engage in the social roles and tasks of late adolescence and/or early adulthood. Implications for further refining the concept of stepping down from a developmental perspective are discussed.