Methods: The current study analyzes California child welfare administrative data, which captures youths’ placement records in EFC. The sample includes youth who stayed in EFC for at least one day between 2012 to 2018 (N = 51,744). Two sets of youth outcomes were assessed in this study. First, leveraging state unemployment insurance wage data, we examined youths’ employment and earnings outcomes, including ever being employed, monthly earnings, and mean quarters employed. Second, drawing from National Student Clearinghouse data, we examined postsecondary education outcomes including whether youth were ever enrolled in college and the average number of months enrolled. The main predictor of this analysis is the predominant placement type at each month from 2012-2018: SILP, THP-NMD, or another placement type. We used mixed-effects regression models to examine differences in placement type on the employment and postsecondary education outcomes. A wide range of controls were included in the regression models: youth demographics, foster care history, maltreatment records, disability and health, county-level attributes, and outcome-specific covariates (e.g., county youth employment rate for employment outcomes).
Results: On average, the percent of time youth spent in THP-NMD steadily increased from 3% in 2012 to 26% in 2018. SILPs became the placement type where youth spent the greatest percentage of time, rising from 15% in 2012 to 44% in 2018. From 2012 to 2018, youth employment and monthly earnings increased across SILP, THP+NMD, and other placements. Compared to youth in SILPs, youth in THP-NMD had significantly (p<.05) greater odds of being employed (OR=1.24), were employed longer (b=0.25), and were more likely to ever enroll in college (OR=1.42). No significant differences were found between SILPs and THP-NMD in quarterly earnings or length of time enrolled in college. Youth in other placements fared worse than youth in THP-NMDs and SILPs across all outcomes.
Conclusions and Implications: This is among the first studies to investigate associations between youth’s EFC placement type and key education and employment outcomes. Despite serving higher needs youth, THP+NMDs are associated with increased rates of employment and postsecondary enrollment. Youth in other placements (e.g., relative and nonrelative foster homes) fared worse across the outcomes we assessed. These findings underscore the important supports provided by the specialized EFC placement types, and suggests that youth in other placement types may benefit from more support than is currently available.