The period transitioning from foster care to living independently is difficult for youth, who often face immense challenges in adulthood without the guidance of a guardian. To better understand this transition period, John Fowler, a graduate research assistant in the UW School of Social Work and Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, conducted a study on the online communities that help young adults navigate the transition out of the foster care system. Online communities provide a platform for foster care youth to come together and share assistance, provide advice, or commiserate about shared experiences. Therefore, Fowler's focus was to determine what topics former foster youth share online and how they match up with the traditional social work support provided in the transition to adulthood. As a result of the study, the researchers found new topics missing from the social work literature about transitioning out of foster care. 

The researchers published their findings in the January 2022 issue of the Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. Read the full paper, Fostering Communication: Characterizing the Concerns of Former Foster Youth in an Online Community.