Conceptualizing effective legal representation for Foster youth: A group concept mapping study

J. Jay Miller, Jacquelynn F. Duron, Jessica Donohue-Dioh, Jennifer M. Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Whilst there is broad consensus that foster youth embroiled in dependency court proceedings related to child maltreatment are entitled to effective representation, few studies have examined this phenomenon. This study used Group Concept Mapping (GCM) with a sample of 31 foster youth and alumni to explicate a conceptual framework for effective legal representation. GCM is an integrated, mixed-method research approach that utilizes non-metric multidimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analyses to analyze qualitative data. As a result, pictorial illustration of the data are generated. Results indicate that youth conceptualized effective legal representation via six unique clusters: Legal Skills, Foster Care Knowledge, Youth/Attorney Relationship, Attitude About Foster Care, Contact, and Communication. Additionally, participants viewed the Communication cluster as most important and feasible, when compared to other clusters in the final solution. Conversely, statements in the Legal Skills cluster were rated the least important and the Foster Care Knowledge was rated least feasible. Data indicates the need for a more wholistic approach to viewing effective legal representation. Findings suggest explicit attention to training about legal approaches and youth/alumni engagement. As well, data provide foundational aspects on which to build future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Foster Care
  • Foster Care alumni
  • Foster youth
  • Group concept mapping
  • Legal representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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