This paper presents an overview of the major issues affecting the more than half a million children currently living in foster care and analyzes and evaluates the typology of art making experiences for foster youth. This qualitative study, which focuses on out-of-school visual arts programs for older adolescent foster youth ages 14 to 18, has two objectives: (1) to identify and evaluate the different types of visual arts programs implemented by foster care agencies, child welfare and arts organizations, service providers and individuals to address the specific needs of foster youth; and (2) to analyze the relationship of art educational art-making experiences to expressive art-making therapies commonly provided for foster youth. This study focuses on the visual arts for older adolescents who are at risk for aging out of the foster care system. However, some of the programs with multi-arts components have useful implications for younger children and address similar needs of abused, neglected and at-risk youth.
In order to examine the connection between the arts and foster youth, this study used four sources of information: (1) data from existing scholarly research and literature on the foster care system, foster youth, art education and art therapy; (2) quantitative data on foster youth collected by government agencies and child welfare organizations; (3) qualitative data obtained directly from arts programs for foster youth; and through (4) surveys and interviews of art program directors, child welfare administrators, art educators, art therapists, artists, foster youth, foster parents and foster alumni who have experience with the visual arts.
This study exposes a dual need for art educational research on special student populations and human development research on innovative methods of developing the "well-being" of the older youth in foster care. The results would be useful to art educators and art therapists working with older youth in the foster care system; community arts organizations and foster care agencies interested in developing or replicating promising visual arts programs for foster youth; and artists, art students, and community stakeholders who want to use the visual arts to help improve the lives of foster youth.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
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