Narratives of women's retrospective experiences of teen pregnancy, motherhood, and school engagement while placed in foster care

Serena K. Ohene, Antonio Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Pregnant and Parenting Teens (PPTs) in foster care experience, among many setbacks, more academic difficulties, than their peers who are not in foster care. The challenges of teen pregnancy and parenting and the expectation of maintaining school engagement and positive academic outcomes can be overwhelming, especially for foster care youth who live away from their home of origin. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the extent to which the core tenets of attachment, identity, self-efficacy, and critical race theories collectively explain or validate experiences of school engagement and academic outcomes among pregnant and parenting teens in the child welfare system. Semi-structured interviews with eleven aged-out pregnant and parenting teens supported the utility of the four main theories in elucidating the barriers and facilitators to PPTs school engagement and improved academic outcomes. All together, the PPTs narratives do not single out one of these individual theories as solely playing a direct role in influencing their engagement in educational processes and academic outcomes. Rather, the integration of the tenets and main ideas of each of these theories holistically capture their experiences. Study findings showed that school engagement and educational achievement increased among PPTs in foster and group homes when they experienced attachment connections with foster parents and staff, positive identity development, and enhanced self-efficacy. Suggestions for promoting attachment and relational connections, positive identity formation, enhanced self-efficacies, and racial/ethnic inclusion toward boosting school engagement are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104563
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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