Substance use among older youth transitioning from foster care: Examining the protective effects of religious and spiritual capital

Lionel D. Scott, David R. Hodge, Tony White, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Among older youth transitioning from the foster care system, this longitudinal study examined the association of religious and spiritual capital to substance use in the past year at age 19. Participants consisted of African American (N = 179) and White non-Hispanic (N = 133) older youth in foster care. Drawing from social capital theory, it was posited that religious service attendance (a proxy for religious capital) and belief in a spiritual force (a proxy for spiritual capital) would be inversely associated with substance use. Multiple logistic regression results indicated support for the first and second hypothesis for White foster youth only. Among White foster youth, more frequent religious service attendance and greater belief in a spiritual force were associated with a lower likelihood of illegal substance and polysubstance use. No association between religious or spiritual capital and substance use was found among African American foster youth. The findings underscore the importance of conducting spiritual assessments to help ensure older foster youth who have strong religious or spiritual orientations are in environments where they are accommodated and supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2018



  • foster care
  • religion
  • social capital
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this