Many adolescents in the foster care system aspire to pursue a post-secondary school education (Kirk, Lewis, Nilsen, & Colvin, 2013). Unfortunately, there are numerous challenges that can inhibit their educational expectations. This includes a higher susceptibility for them to be suspended or expelled, repeat a grade, or drop out of high school (Unrau, Font, & Rawls, 2012). Statistics show 20% of foster care youth will also become homeless after turning 18-years-old (National Foster Youth Institute, 2017). Or they may be placed with relatives, in foster homes, or in group homes by the court system (Kirk, et al., 2013). Longer-term placement options include adoption or allowing them to age out of the foster care system, which occurs between the age of 18-20 years old. Adolescents in foster care are also underrepresented in higher education, with approximately 10% of former foster care youth enrolled in college, and only 4% obtained a bachelor’s degree (Kirk, et al., 2013).
Counselors play an essential part of the support network of foster care youth and can help to improve career and college readiness. Williams, Baker and Williams-DeVane (2018) indicated that by understanding the unique circumstances foster care youth encounter and by having the desire to enhance their career and college readiness, one may help to improve the potential of foster care youth in gaining access to post-secondary education opportunities. For instance, Rios and Rocco (2014) recommended that professionals, such as school counselors, should have training on both the internal barriers and successful assets that advance the educational achievement of foster care youth. This training can begin within counseling training programs. Furthermore, masters counseling students who reported having higher exposure to multicultural field experiences described an increase in their multicultural counseling competency (Dickson and Jepson, 2007). Thus, it can be mutually beneficial for counseling students who are in their clinical field experience to work with foster care youth. Specifically, counseling interns can help foster care adolescents with strategies that can enhance their career and college readiness. This article will focus on how career counselor educators can teach their students how to use the Career and College Readiness Self-Efficacy Inventory (CCRSI; Baker & Parikh Foxx, 2012) to work towards customizing career and college readiness interventions for adolescents in foster care.
Career and College Readiness Self-Efficacy Inventory (CCRSI)
The CCRSI is a measure of an individuals’ belief in their readiness to begin studies in a career pathway and preparedness for success in entry-level post-secondary education settings. The items in the instrument elicit beliefs about how confident one is on a set of behaviors considered to be important for college and career readiness. Some items characterize broad goals (e.g., “I believe I have the potential to succeed in the right post-high school education situation; I have confidence in being able to live a good life 10 years from now”). Other items indicate more specific content (e.g., “I know I understand the post-high school education application process; I know about the various ways to pay for a post-high school education”). The CCRSI consists of a four-factor model that measures career and college readiness within the following areas:
The inventory consists of 14 statements and respondents are to choose one out of five responses on a Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Each response has a numerical weight ranging from 5=strongly agree to 1= strongly disagree. Individual item scores are added together to acquire a total score. The range of possible scores on the scale is 14 (low) to 70 (high). Administering the CCRSI will help counselors-in-training work towards customizing interventions that will help enhance the career and college readiness self-efficacy of foster care adolescents. Herein, career counselor educators can teach students the usage of the CCRSI and its four factors, as well as train them on how to administer the inventory. Counseling students must then understand how to interpret the results so that they may effectively explain to their clients how they scored on each of the four factors, thus revealing the specific areas of need for developing career and college readiness interventions.
Let’s consider Janelle, a 17-year-old high school junior who is in foster care who is being seen by Rose, a counseling intern working in the career development center at Janelle’s high school. Rose administered the CCRSI to Janelle, which resulted in a scored of 50 out of 70 possible points. In looking further in to the results, Janelle scored a 16 out of 25 points on the college knowledge factor, a 14 out of 20 points on the positive personal characteristics factor, 11 out of 15 points on the academic competence factor, and 10 out of 10 points on the potential to achieve future goals factor. In reviewing these results and talking with Janelle about her needs and barriers she’s experienced, Rose prioritized her work with Janelle by first increasing her college knowledge regarding the post-secondary education-going process, exploring future academic major and career opportunities, and examining salaries for potential careers. Rose then worked with Janelle on the positive personal characteristics factor (2nd lowest score) where they focused on goal-setting and building confidence in a good life ten years from now. The third area of focus was on the academic competence factor where Janelle needed the most support with enhancing study skills and test-taking strategies.
Using case studies such as the work of Rose with Janelle can help career counselor educators to demonstrate how the CCRSI is used in clinical practice with foster care adolescents. They may then provide additional case studies for counseling students to practice utilizing the CCRSI prior to their field experience. Career counselor educators are encouraged to create scenarios which truly illustrate the barriers adolescents in foster care face so that counseling interns learn of these potential challenges and customize interventions accordingly. Using the CCRSI as an assessment tool, career counselor educators can equip their students with new strategies that can help them support the career and college readiness of foster care adolescents.
Baker, S. B., & Parikh Foxx, S. (2012). Career and College Readiness Self-efficacy Inventory. Raleigh, NC: Authors.
Baker, S. B., Parikh Foxx, S., Akcan-Aydin, P., Gavin Williams, R., Ashraf, A. & Martinez, R. R. (2016). Understanding and enhancing career and college readiness. Unpublished manuscript.
Dickson, G. L., & Jepsen, D. A. (2007). Multicultural training experiences as predictors of multicultural competencies: Students’ perspectives. Counselor Education and Supervision, 47, 76–95. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6978.2007.tb00040.x
Kirk, C. M., Lewis, R. K., Nilsen, C., & Colvin, D. Q. (2013). Foster care and college: The educational aspirations and expectations of youth in the foster care system. Youth & Society, 45(3), 307–323. doi:10.1177/0044118X11417734
National Foster Youth Institute. (2017). 51 Useful aging out of foster care statistics. Retrieved from, https://www.nfyi.org/51-useful-aging-out-of-foster-care-statistics-social-race-media/
Rios, S. J., & Rocco, T. S. (2014). From foster care to college: Barriers and supports on the road to postsecondary education. Emerging Adulthood, 2(3), 227–237. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696814526715
Unrau, Y. A., Font, S. A., & Rawls, G. (2012). Readiness for college engagement amongstudents who have aged out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 76–83. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.09.002
Williams, R. G., Baker, S. B., & Williams-DeVane, C. R. (2018). Effects of customized Counseling Interventions on Career and College Readiness Self-Efficacy of Three Female Foster Care Youth. The Professional Counselor, 8(2), 159–174. https://doi-org.ezproxy.nccu.edu/10.15241/rgw.8.2.159
Regina Gavin Williams, PhD, NCC, LPC, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education program at North Carolina Central University She received her Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education from North Carolina State University. Dr. Williams has worked in educational and community mental health settings, most recently working in student services within the NC State College of Education, and as a Licensed Professional Counselor primarily serving children and adolescents in the foster care system. She is the Past President of the North Carolina Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development (NCAMCD) and served as Member-at-Large, Government Relations on the 2017-18 North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA) Governing Council. Dr. Williams’ research focuses on the career and college readiness and adult self-sufficiency of adolescents aging out of the foster care system, training therapeutic foster caregivers, and assisting adolescents with post-secondary education and career decision-making. She also focuses on enhancing the multicultural and social justice counseling competencies of counselors-in-training. Dr. Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.