Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Linda Perkins

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Dionne Bensonsmith

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Tessa Hicks-Peterson

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Franchesca A Ocasio


Child welfare system, Critical race theory, Foster care, School discipline, School-prison-pipeline, Youth resistance

Subject Categories



Research on Black, Indigenous, and girls and gender expansive youth of color in foster care is limited. Though, existing research in education, sociology, and psychology suggests that these individuals enter foster care at higher rates than their counterparts due to interpersonal and structural violence. In the system, racialized and gendered stereotypes influence how they are perceived by educators and lead to increased discipline in schools. Given this landscape, this work seeks to understand the educational experiences of BIPOC girls and gender-expansive youth in foster care and the ways they navigate mistreatment by educators. In the tradition of Critical Race Theorists, and indigenous, Black, and Chicana feminist researchers, this study utilizes counter-storytelling to challenge the dominant narrative surrounding these populations, obtained through ethnographic and qualitative research methods. Data from field observations and qualitative interviews lead to three key conclusions: 1) Community Experts illustrate that: 1) As systems-impacted youth, they faced unique systemic barriers to academic success, 2) Systemic barriers in education impacted Experts' feelings of school connectedness, giving rise to complex behaviors, 3) Despite the barriers placed in front of them, Experts survived education and the family regulation system with community support. While further research is needed, these findings shed light on the challenges to academic success facing BIPOC girls and gender-expansive youth in foster care. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that these challenges require unique and creative solutions, ranging from changes in educational practice to systemic changes, such as the abolition of the family regulation system.



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