In this study, we drew on qualitative data gathered during in-depth focus groups with 46 high school youth in foster care. The goal of this research was to center and amplify the often-unheard voices of youth in foster care and their experiences in high school. Drawing on sense of belonging as a theoretical framework, we addressed the following questions: (a) How do youth in foster care describe and make meaning of their sense of belonging in high school? (b) What factors help facilitate or thwart belongingness among high school youth in foster care? The first finding from this study offers insights about how students negotiated disclosure of their “foster identity,” both as a strategy for “fitting in” at school and as a buffer against the negative consequences of stigma. The second finding presented offers insights into how educational instability, as a result of changes in residential placement, reduced their sense of belonging by requiring them to sever ties with their established communities. Implications for policy, practice, and research are delineated.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science