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May 2018Vol. 19, No. 4Perspectives of Youth in Foster Care: My Life Model

A recent article in Child and Youth Services Reviews evaluates the My Life self-determination enhancement model, which offers youth-directed, experienced-based coaching to youth on how to apply self-determination skills to achieve transition goals. The model also includes peer-mentoring workshops that provide opportunities for learning and networking as well as enjoyment.

The article highlights a qualitative study in which 10 youth, aged 16-18, completed the My Life intervention and then participated in a two-part interview. The first part of the interview involved just the interviewer and the youth and focused on gathering information from the youth about his or her experiences participating in the My Life intervention. During the second part of the interview, the youth was joined by his or her My Life coach to discuss the youth's experiences with the peer-mentoring portion of the program.

The study yielded the following findings:

  • The theme of self-direction was prevalent during most of the interviews. Self-direction was identified as central to guiding the youth's actions as well as the youth's underlying notions of success and continuing growth. Several youth stated that their participation in the program led to an increased desire for self-direction and independence.
  • Critical coaching elements and processes, such as youth-directed relationship support, compatible personality, shared experiences, and transparent and honest communication, were in line with the intervention's focus on providing a youth-directed coaching experience. One participant said the My Life coach "wasn't trying to control my life. She was giving suggestions, not demanding. She was supportive of how I felt toward things."
  • Although it was a less intensive element of the program, peer-mentoring elements and processes were well-received by most participants. Youth relayed that they valued the relationships they developed with other young people they met during the workshops.
  • Many youth also reflected on the enduring impact of the intervention activities, experiences, and accomplishments. Many participants experienced increased confidence and life satisfaction and learned new skills that they continue to apply.
  • Youth clearly acknowledged that support for their transition to adulthood must be based on their own visions for themselves and their futures. 

"Perspectives of Youth in Foster Care on Essential Ingredients for Promoting Self-Determination and Successful Transition to Adult Life: My Life Model," by Laurie E. Powers, et al. (Children and Youth Services Review, 86), is available at