Predictors of adult quality of life for foster care alumni with physical and/or psychiatric disabilities

Tina M. Anctil, Laurie D. McCubbin, Kirk O'Brien, Peter Pecora, Cheryl A. Anderson-Harumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Introduction: This study used quality of life and resilience as theoretical frameworks for evaluating predictors of outcomes for adults who received foster care services alumni of foster care and were diagnosed with a physical or psychiatric disability while in foster care. Method: First, outcomes for foster care alumni with and without physical and psychiatric disabilities (N = 1,087) were compared according to quality of life variables. Second, using only participants with disabilities (N = 578), stepwise regression analyses were performed to determine whether risk and protective factors were associated with specific outcomes. Results: Alumni with disabilities had significantly lower economic (p = .020) and health (p = .001) outcomes; and reported lower educational attainment (p = .002), more difficulty paying monthly bills (p = .026), more psychiatric diagnoses (p = .006), lower self-esteem (p = .013), and worse physical health (p = .001) than those without disabilities. For alumni with disabilities, receiving special education services and experiencing sexual abuse while in foster care were significant risk factors for poor self-esteem; conversely, receiving services and resources that prepared foster care alumni for leaving foster care (e.g., protective factors) predicted better outcomes. Conclusions: By expanding the quality of life outcomes analyses to investigate the impact of risk and protective factors on outcomes of foster care alumni with disabilities, this study fills a gap in the literature by assessing outcome differences within the foster-care population. The study found protective factors were associated with more educational attainment and higher self-esteem in adulthood. Conversely, those who received special education services and experienced sexual abuse while in foster care may be at the greatest risk of poor self-esteem and therefore, could benefit from services that enhance self-esteem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1100
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Disability
  • Foster care
  • Outcomes
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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