Fostering Connections to Success: Research
The following listings are a compilation of the resources and publications of the following organizations: the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, California Fostering Connections, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and FosteringConnections.org.
National Research & Resources
- Federal Laws That Increase Educational Opportunities for Older Youth in Out-of-Home Care provides information on three significant federal laws—the Fostering Connections Act, the College Cost Reducation Act, and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act—that impact educational opportunities for older youth in the foster care system.
- Extending Support to 21—Details of State Practice provides details about five states' policies and practices for retaining eligible youth in foster care beyond age 18. The five states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, and New York.
- Designing Foster Care to 21: A Discussion Guide for Policymakersis intended to support state leaders in the decision-making process when considering the opportunities available to their state to extend IV-E eligibility. The brief begins with general consideration for designing foster care and permanency services and supports beyond age 18, lays out a series of design questions to guide state conversations, and includes case studies from two states that have recently undertaken planning processes in consideration of extending IV-E eligibility.
- Number of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Continues to Rise: National data on the number of youth aging out of foster care and its impact.
- Number of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Drops Below 28,000 in 2010: Updated national data on the number of youth out of foster care and its impact.
- The Adolescent Brain: New Research and its Implications for Young People Transitioning from Foster Care: A study on the emerging science of adolescent brain development and its implications for young people transitioning out of foster care.
- Foster Care to 21: Doing it Right" and "Social Capital: Building Quality Networks for Young People in Foster Care draws from a research base and set of recommendations described more fully in the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative's publication, "The Adolescent Brain."
- Aging Out and On Their Own: Drawing on findings from focus groups, research studies, and interviews, this report describes how the current foster care system fails to provide a permanent family for every child, the difficulty children have staying connected to family and friends while in foster care, and the problems young adults have when they have to face the future without a permanent family to support.
- Aging Out of Foster Care: Towards a Universal Safety Net for Former Foster Care Youth identifies the specific needs and outcomes of youth who age out under current foster care policies, analyzes federal law relating to youth aging out, and surveys various state law attempts to address gaps in federal law and makes policy recommendations, arguing for a universal approach that provides basic services to all former foster care youth.
- 2007 Resolution of the American Bar Association: A resolution by the American Bar Association encouraging legal professionals to lead and promote efforts to create comprehensive support and services for youth who age out of foster care and other former foster youth until at least age 21. Contains extensive synthesis of research into the needs of transition-age youth.
- 2002 Resolution of the American Bar Association: A resolution by the American Bar Association urging Congress and state and territorial legislatures to enact laws that provide youth in foster care full access, up to age 21, to independent and transitional living services and health care and access to competent counsel who can advocate for necessary services and safeguards. Contains extensive discussion of research, policy, and legal considerations.
- From Foster Care to Young Adulthood: University of Chicago Law School Project's Protocol for Reform provides a detailed and comprehensive vision for reform of the foster care system to better ensure that youth "aging out" are supported through to a healthy, independent adulthood.
- Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress Provides a comprehensive summary of the legal and policy context of efforts to extend support for foster youth to age 21; examines different approaches to extending support in light of relevant legal statutes, as well as then-pending legislation.
- Continuing Foster Care Beyond Age 18: How Courts Can Helpprovides insight into the many interconnected systemic issues involved in adapting current systems of foster care to serve youth aged 18 to 21.
- Youth in Foster Care: Easing the Transition to Adulthood: This policy brief outlines a number of improvements federal legislators can make to improve HR 2893's ability to support the broadest possible range of transition-age former foster youth in their development into independent adults. Summarizes current research and makes policy recommendations for federal and state policymakers.
- Factors, Characteristics, and Practices Related to Former Foster Youth and Independent Living Programs: A Literature Review:This report, prepared by Northern California Training Academy and sponsored by the California Department of Social Services, reviews the literature on the transition out of the foster care system to independent living. Independent Living Programs (ILPs) have been found to contribute to independence for some former foster youth. However, many limitations have been noted. One suggested approach to administering ILPs is to consider individual differences and design programs using a person-centered approach. Multiple studies suggest that enrollment in ILPs should commence as early as possible as many youth exit the system without the benefit of ILP experiences.
- Evidence-Based Programs for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse has identified programs for young people transitioning to adulthood that can be classified as "acceptable/emerging practices."
- Review of State Policies and Programs to Support Young People Transitioning Out of Foster Care provides a comprehensive review of state efforts to support youth transitioning out of foster care. As part of the review, Chapin Hall administered a web-based survey of state independent living services coordinators that covered a number of domains including conditions under which foster youth can remain in care after turning 18, independent living and transition services provided, opportunities for youth to reenter care, and how state dollars are used to supplement federal funds.
- Aging Out and On Their Own: More Teens Leaving Foster Care Without a Permanent Family presents state-by-state data on the rising numbers of youth aging out without a safe, permanent family, describes the challenges they face, and recommends federal foster care financing reform as a way to reduce these numbers.
- Aging Out of the Foster Care System to Adulthood: Findings, Challenges, and Recommendations explores the unmet needs of youth who age out of the nation's foster care systems.
- State Policies to Help Youth Transition Out of Foster Caredescribes ways that states can strengthen policies, improve coordination across agencies and systems, better utilize resources, and meaningfully engage foster youth to improve the outcomes of youth leaving the foster care system and at-risk youth in general.
- Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: Identifying Strategies and Best Practices outlines the current federal framework addressing youth aging out of foster care, identifies general outcomes for these young people, and highlights model county programs and best practices that are addressing the needs of this population in innovative ways.
- Finding Funding: Guide to Federal Funding Sources for Youth Programs provides an overview of federal funds that may support youth programming. In addition, the guide highlights youth initiatives that used creative financing strategies to support their programming and offers tips for accessing funds and implementing financing strategies.
- Transitioning from Foster Care: An Experiential Activity Guidebook is designed for programs that primarily work with youth in and transitioning from foster care. Specific transition activities and facilitation techniques are provided as a resource for program development and/or the enhancement of current program orientation and training.
- AdvoCasey: This policy magazine highlights issues and policies that affect the lives of children and families in the United States. The focus of the Fall 2011 issue is "Foster Teens in Transition: Fostered or Forgotten?"
- 'Now What?' Leaving the System: A Special Issue on Permanencyoffers stories by young people on adoption, reunification, and independent living. The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) named this issue a finalist in the category of "Best One-Theme Issue" in this year's Distinguished Achievement Awards.
- Health Care for Adolescents and Young Adults Leaving Foster Care: Policy Options for Improving Access describes the young people who are aging out of foster care, their health status, and the barriers to health care they face when leaving foster care. It explains how health care access can be improved for this population by first describing how Medicaid and SCHIP currently reach adolescents and young adults, and how these two programs can be used to help former foster youth. The brief emphasizes, in particular, the important opportunity presented by the Medicaid Expansion Option contained in the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, and summarizes the policy options that can best improve access to health care for former foster youth.
Research on Outcomes on Aging Out
The Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth (Midwest Study) is a collaborative effort involving Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; the University of Wisconsin Survey Center; and the public child welfare agencies in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The study follows a sample of young people from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois as they transition out of foster care into adulthood in order to provide a comprehensive picture of how foster youth are faring during this transition since the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 became law.
Issue Briefs Related To The Larger Midwest Study:
- The Economic Well-Being of LGB Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care issue brief describes the characteristics and economic well-being of young people aging out of foster care who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB). It also compares their economic self-sufficiency to that of their heterosexual peers also aging out of care.
- Assessing the Impact of Extending Care Beyond Age 18 on Homelessness: Emerging Findings from the Midwest Studyaddresses three major questions stemming from their research findings in the Midwest Study: How common is homelessness among young people making the transition from foster care to adulthood do young people become homeless? Is there any evidence that allowing young people to remain in care until 21 reduces homelessness?
- Distinct Subgroups of Former Foster Youth During Young Adulthood: Implications for Policy and Practice uses data from their findings to identify subpopulations and generate four distinctive multi-dimensional profiles of transitioning foster youth.
- Does Extending Foster Care Beyond Age 18 Promote Postsecondary Educational Attainment? updates the data from the Midwest Study regarding the relationship between postsecondary educational attainments and extending foster care until age 21.
- Employment of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: Evidence from the Midwest Study explores how former foster youth in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa are faring in the labor market and what explains the variability in employment outcomes for these youth by describing trends in former foster youths' employment from age 17 to 24 and considering how former foster youths' characteristics and experiences are associated with their employment and wages.
- Extending Foster Care to Age 21: Weighing the Costs to Government Against the Benefits of Youth provides some preliminary estimates of those costs and benefits using data from a variety of sources, including the Midwest Study, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS), and the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study. Few studies have examined how children in foster care have fared as adults, and even fewer studies have identified what changes in foster care services could improve their lives. This study provides new information in both areas.
- Report on Human Rights Watch Interviews with Former Foster Children, Now Homeless: A report to the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, chronicling the experiences of homeless former foster youth in California. Documents pervasive difficulties across domains of life functioning by providing testimonials in the youths' own words. Contextualizes comments and provides concluding remarks.
- Public Shelter Admission Among Young Adults with Child Welfare Histories by Type of Service and Type of Exit examines the prevalence and associated factors of New York City public shelter use among young adults with histories of out-of-home care or nonplacement preventive services as teenagers. The study finds that 19 percent of former child welfare service users entered public shelters within 10 years of exit from child welfare. Persons with out-ofhome placement histories are twice as likely to enter public shelters (22 percent) as those who received nonplacement preventive services only (11 percent). Persons exiting child welfare through absconding from child welfare have the highest rate of shelter use, followed by those discharged to independent living.
- Assessing Outcomes for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care:The Utah Department of Human Services reviewed the outcomes of 926 youth who aged out of foster care between 1999 and 2004, and comparing outcomes for those who left care before and after implementation of the Transition to Adult Living Initiative in 2003. This report describes those outcomes, which were mixed, and makes recommendations for further improvement.
- Coming of Age: Employment Outcomes for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care Through Their Middle Twenties: The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) requested this study to examine employment and earnings outcomes for youth, through their mid-twenties, who age out of foster care. The key question and focus of the study is whether foster youth catch up or continue to experience less employment and significantly lower earnings than their peers even into their mid-twenties.
- Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging Out of Foster Careprovides information on the employment outcomes of children exiting foster care near their eighteenth birthdays in California, Illinois, and South Carolina during the mid-1990s. It describes when they began to have earnings, in how many quarters over a 13-quarter time period they had earned income, and the amount of earned income they received over that time period. These outcomes are compared to those for youth who were reunified with their parents prior to their eighteenth birthday and to low-income youth.