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One adult who is crazy about you: Can natural mentoring relationships increase assets among young adults with and without foster care experience?


  • Greeson, Johanna K.P.
  • Usher, Lynn
  • Grinstein-Weiss, Michal


During emerging adulthood, most youth receive family support to help them weather the difficulties associated with transitioning to independence. When foster youth emancipate, they confront the challenges associated with emerging adulthood, and are at risk of having to transition without family support. Many are in danger of failing to meet minimal levels of self-sufficiency. A caring adult who offers social support is normative for adolescent development and protective for youth across many risk conditions. Natural mentoring can cultivate such relationships. This study examines the association between natural mentor relationship characteristics, and material hardship and asset-related outcomes during the emerging adulthood period in both a normative sample of young adults and young adults identified as former foster youth. This study also considers the potential mediating effect of future expectations. Data from Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that pertain to 15,197 respondents are used. Path models with categorical dependent variables were estimated using a maximum likelihood method with standard errors that are robust to non-normality and non-independence of observations. "Like a parent", "role model", and "guidance/advice" were significantly associated with assets among both groups. This study contributes to the growing body of literature on natural mentoring and former foster youth, and highlights the value of increasing our understanding of natural mentor roles for intervention development. The focus on asset-related outcomes is a novel approach to investigate the benefits of natural mentoring to the healthy development of youth. This paper is the first to consider the association between natural mentoring and asset building among both former and nonformer foster youth.

Suggested Citation

  • Greeson, Johanna K.P. & Usher, Lynn & Grinstein-Weiss, Michal, 2010. "One adult who is crazy about you: Can natural mentoring relationships increase assets among young adults with and without foster care experience?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 565-577, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:32:y:2010:i:4:p:565-577

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pecora, Peter J. & Kessler, Ronald C. & O'Brien, Kirk & White, Catherine Roller & Williams, Jason & Hiripi, Eva & English, Diana & White, James & Herrick, Mary Anne, 2006. "Educational and employment outcomes of adults formerly placed in foster care: Results from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 1459-1481, December.
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    3. Green, Richard K. & White, Michelle J., 1997. "Measuring the Benefits of Homeowning: Effects on Children," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 441-461, May.
    4. Dietz, Robert D. & Haurin, Donald R., 2003. "The social and private micro-level consequences of homeownership," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 401-450, November.
    5. Munson, Michelle R. & McMillen, J. Curtis, 2009. "Natural mentoring and psychosocial outcomes among older youth transitioning from foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 104-111, January.
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2003.031476_1 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Sulimani-Aidan, Yafit, 2016. "In between formal and informal: Staff and youth relationships in care and after leaving care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 43-49.
    2. Agyekum, Francis & Locke, Stuart & Hewa-Wellalage, Nirosha, 2016. "Financial Inclusion and Digital Financial Services: Empirical evidence from Ghana," MPRA Paper 82885, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 May 2017.
    3. repec:eee:cysrev:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:57-67 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ahrens, Kym R. & DuBois, David Lane & Garrison, Michelle & Spencer, Renee & Richardson, Laura P. & Lozano, Paula, 2011. "Qualitative exploration of relationships with important non-parental adults in the lives of youth in foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1012-1023, June.
    5. Thompson, Allison E. & Greeson, Johanna K.P. & Brunsink, Ashleigh M., 2016. "Natural mentoring among older youth in and aging out of foster care: A systematic review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 40-50.
    6. repec:eee:cysrev:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:41-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:cysrev:v:84:y:2018:i:c:p:17-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:cysrev:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:564-575 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:cysrev:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:9-16 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Blakeslee, Jennifer E., 2015. "Measuring the support networks of transition-age foster youth: Preliminary validation of a social network assessment for research and practice," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 123-134.
    11. Greeson, Johanna K.P. & Thompson, Allison E. & Ali, Samira & Wenger, Rebecca Stern, 2015. "It's good to know that you got somebody that's not going anywhere: Attitudes and beliefs of older youth in foster care about child welfare-based natural mentoring," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 140-149.
    12. Greeson, Johanna K.P. & Garcia, Antonio R. & Kim, Minseop & Thompson, Allison E. & Courtney, Mark E., 2015. "Development & maintenance of social support among aged out foster youth who received independent living services: Results from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-9.
    13. Nesmith, Ande & Christophersen, Kaitlin, 2014. "Smoothing the transition to adulthood: Creating ongoing supportive relationships among foster youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-8.
    14. Jay Miller, J. & Benner, Kalea & Pope, Natalie & Dumas, Tamikia & Damron, Larry J. & Segress, Melissa & Slone, Melissa & Thrasher, Shawndaya & Niu, Chunling, 2017. "Conceptualizing effective foster parent mentor programs: A participatory planning process," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 411-418.


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