Exploring parenting attitudes and parental risk of child maltreatment among youth aging out of Arizona's foster care system

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There are a number of factors known to influence the occurrence of child maltreatment, including parental history of child maltreatment. Youth aging out of the foster care system have been

There are a number of factors known to influence the occurrence of child maltreatment, including parental history of child maltreatment. Youth aging out of the foster care system have been shown to experience a number of challenges associated with the transition to adulthood, including early unintended pregnancy and parenting. However, despite the presumed risks associated with being in foster care and having a history of child maltreatment, very little research has been conducted to examine the parenting attitudes among youth aging out. This study explored the parenting attitudes and parental risk of child maltreatment among youth aging out of foster care in Arizona and examined the relationship between relational support and parenting. Foster youths' parenting attitudes and parental risk of child maltreatment across five constructs: parental expectations, parental empathic awareness of children's needs, beliefs regarding the use of corporal punishment, parent-child roles, and children's power and independence were assessed. Linear regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationship between youths' perceived social support from friends, family, and significant others and their parenting attitudes and youths' current living arrangements and their parenting attitudes. Findings indicate that youth had lower than the median normed sample scores on two out of the five parenting constructs, parental empathic awareness of children's needs and parent-child roles. Overall, 17% of youth in the sample were considered high risk of child maltreatment as parents, while 79% were considered medium risk. Perceived social support from friends was significantly associated with higher scores regarding youths' attitudes about the use of corporal punishment and children's power and independence. Youth living with foster parents had significantly higher scores than youth living on their own across three out of the five parenting attitude constructs. Youth living with relatives had higher scores than youth living on their own on the empathic awareness of children's needs parenting construct. Findings suggest that youth may rely on friends for social support and may develop more nurturing parenting attitudes if residing with foster parents or relatives. Implications for policy, intervention, and practice are discussed.