Date of Award

Fall 12-17-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Anthony Colella, Ph.D

Committee Member

Christopher J. Hynes

Committee Member

Darren Petersen, Ed.D

Committee Member

Erica D'Agostino, Ed.D


New Jersey, social workers, perceptions, foster care, aging out


The purpose of this research study is to investigate the perceptions of New Jersey social workers regarding potential barriers that may exist with foster care youth maturity development, independent living programs emphasizing foster care alumni post-secondary education achievement, and social worker departmental training relating to their understanding of independent living programs.

The design of this qualitative study focused on New Jersey Division of Children & Family volunteer participants consisting of three district office manager interviews, and three social worker focus group discussions from specific geographic locations throughout New Jersey. The interview and focus group questions were developed after comprehensive research and validated by a jury of experts. The interview questions for the district office managers were designed into four components: background information, New Jersey foster youth development, New Jersey foster youth post-secondary education achievement, and the New Jersey social worker. The focus group questions for the social workers were designed into four components: New Jersey foster youth development, New Jersey foster youth post-secondary education achievement, role of the New Jersey social worker, and summary. Each component included subsidiary questions intended to produce extensive responses from the participants. The data was tape recorded and then transcribed for evaluation.

Findings of the data determined that priority needs to be focused on foster care youth personal/social development. The participants agreed that significant enhancements have been established relating to foster care independent living programs, however there is no way to precisely measure the success of these programs. The majority of participants believed that the present New Jersey Division of Children & Family departmental training provides a mediocre understanding of the standard policies and practices pertaining to independent living programs, and also affirmed that the training is both inadequate and ineffective.

Recommendations for policy included mandatory training on the topic of independent living programs to all New Jersey social workers, an up to date uniform checklist document explaining independent living programs available to aging out foster care youth, social media/networking opportunities that associate aging out foster care youth to similar foster care alumni, and funding for aging out foster care youth psychological examinations to identify emotional and mental issues that require therapy. Recommendations for practice included random audits to ensure New Jersey Division of Children & Family practice follows policy confirming statewide uniformity, foster care youth compulsory assessment testing to correspond with appropriate social programs, and standardized statewide reports to augment future public funding. Recommendations for future research included a research study into analysis of the uniform checklist document, standardized statewide reports, and random audits to measure the effectiveness based on current statistical information, a case study of adolescents as they progress through the New Jersey foster care system utilizing compulsory assessment testing, and a research study gathering data to determine the efficacy of the New Jersey Division of Children & Family social worker mandatory training on independent living programs.

Included in

Social Work Commons