Session: Policies and Programs That Support Youth Aging out of Foster Care (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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162 Policies and Programs That Support Youth Aging out of Foster Care

Thursday, January 21, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Child Welfare
Symposium Organizer:
Mike Pergamit, PhD, The Urban Institute
Recognizing the need to support young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood, federal child welfare policy has increased the focus on and availability of transition supports. In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act gave states an option to extend eligibility for Title IV-E foster care for youth beyond age 18 until age 21. In states that chose to extend care to age 21, criteria for youth to remain in care after age 18 include working towards a secondary degree or equivalent, enrolled in a postsecondary institution or vocational education program, working at least 80 hours per month or by participating in a program that prepares them for employment, or are incapable of fulfilling any of the criteria because of a medical condition. While policymakers have increased supports available for young people aging out of foster care, the child welfare field still has many unanswered questions about what types of interventions most effectively improve young-adult outcomes for this population.

This session presents findings from studies of programs and policies focused on engaging youth aging out of foster care in education, employment, and housing. While all youth need access to support to build the skills and competencies to transition successfully to adulthood, many young adults exiting foster care do so without the financial or other resources many parents strive to provide children well into the early adult years. Despite the disparity in assistance, roughly 20,000 youth age out of foster care every year who are expected to make it on their own. Understanding how these programs and policies help these youth is essential to supporting this group of young people at a critical time in their lives.

The papers in this session help fill empirical gaps in what researchers, policymakers, and service-providers know about employment programs, education and training supports, and college success programming geared to transition-age youth in foster care. The first paper presents findings from an analysis of matched national and state-level administrative data on the federal Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program and how well it assists transition-age youth in foster care access and afford post-secondary education and training. The second paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study of a college success program, its outcomes for students, and challenges and opportunities for future efforts to evaluate the impacts of college success programs. The third paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study of two qualitatively different employment programs, the different ways each program approaches preparing transition-age youth for work, and how well the models achieve their goals. The fourth paper presents findings from a qualitative study of housing programs for youth transitioning out of foster care.

These studies are part of the larger research project, "Phase II Evaluation Activities for Implementing a Next Generation Evaluation Agenda for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for the Successful Transition to Adulthood," funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

* noted as presenting author
Evaluation of the Education and Training Voucher Program
Devlin Hanson, PhD, Urban Institute; Katherine Thomas, PhD, Urban Institute
Supportive Housing for Youth Formerly in Foster Care
Bridgette Lery, PhD, Urban Institute
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