Building Positive Futures for Children in Foster Care
Longitudinal Study Explores Connections Between Risk and Protective Factors
Fostering Healthy Futures is a collaborative research effort formed between the University of Denver and faculty from several other partner institutions, including Northwestern University. Collecting data points from a ten-year span, the study examined some 450 children who either lived or had lived in foster care settings at some point in life, aiming to better understand how different characteristics of foster care situations can contribute to outcomes for these youth later in life.
About Our Research
We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.
DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…
- exploring the effects of felony disenfranchisement.
- employing lasers as the medium for quantum science.
- using theatre to heal and rehabilitate inmates.
About the Program
Conducted in partnership with the University of Denver, Northwestern University, the University of Rochester, the University of Minnesota, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and Purdue University, Fostering Healthy Futures collected data for analysis over a ten-year span from a wide cross-section of youths who had experienced foster care at some point in their life. The program also included analysis of the overall effectiveness of graduate student mentors for children in foster care settings, seeking to provide these children with specific life skills that would help them develop positive relationships with adults and age contemporaries.
Crucially, about half of the children surveyed were of Latinx descent, while another third were African-American. Centering diversity in the study, the researchers sought to provide analysis that furthered equitable treatment and outcomes for children in foster care settings, regardless of racial or socioeconomic background.
The project analyzed factors from a range of care providers, including mental health centers, mentoring organizations, youth-serving organizations and other institutions in which the relationship between adult graduate students and children with a history of foster care placement can be advanced and further explored.
Heather Taussig is a professor at DU's Graduate School of Social Work. She's also an adjunct professor at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado. She specializes in studying effective prevention and engagement strategies for at-risk youth, especially those who have experienced time in foster care. Her other areas of specialty include addictions and substance use, criminal justice, evidence-based practice/implementation science, intervention research, mental and behavioral health, research methods, trauma, and violence.