Our analyses match child welfare administrative data from 10 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee) that include information about foster care histories with ETV program data and National Student Clearinghouse data on college enrollment and attainment. Controlling for demographics, characteristics of child welfare involvement, and state-level variation, we analyze differences in ETV receipt, as well as college enrollment, persistence, and graduation for 195,335 youth who were in foster care in or after their sixteenth birthday between 2005 and 2015. The analysis also draws on interviews with state administrators in these ten states around the eligibility criteria, outreach procedures, application, renewal, and disbursement policies, and other relevant policies such as tuition waivers or extended foster care. We explore how this variation in state-level administration and policy affects take-up of ETVs.
Initial analyses find low rates of ETV take-up among the eligible population. Among foster youth who were eligible for an ETV and attended college, only one in every three received an ETV. There are also substantial differences in demographic characteristics, foster care histories, and educational outcomes between youth formerly in foster care who receive ETVs versus those who don’t: youth who receive ETVs often have longer child welfare involvement, with more removal episodes and placements, and more often age out of care as their last reason for discharge. Youth who receive ETVs tend to enroll in college earlier than youth who did not and more often attend private universities.
Findings seek to better understand who receives these vouchers, how and when they are used, the educational impact for recipients, and how state-level administration and policy affect these outcomes.