Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs (Chafee Independent Living Evaluation Project), 2001-2010
Dataset Number: 161
Mark E. Courtney, Ph.D., Matthew W. Stagner, Ph.D., Michael Pergamit, Ph.D.
The Children’s Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners—the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and the National Opinion Research Center—to conduct an evaluation of selected programs funded through John Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP). This evaluation, using a rigorous, random assignment design, was called for in the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999.
The goal of the evaluation is to determine the effects of Independent Living Programs funded under CFCIP in achieving key outcomes for participating youth including increased educational attainment, higher employment rates and stability, greater interpersonal and relationship skills, reduced non-marital pregnancy and births, and reduced delinquency and crime rates. An initial evaluability assessment was conducted to identify programs that could be rigorously evaluated and to develop an evaluation design that would meet the requirements of the authorizing legislation. Programs participating in the evaluation include an employment services program in Kern County, California; a one-on-one intensive, individualized life skills program in Massachusetts; and, a tutoring/mentoring program and a classroom-based life skills training program, both in Los Angeles County, California.
In order to determine the short and long-term effects of Independent Living Programs on key outcomes noted above, youth are assigned to intervention and control groups and surveyed at three points over the course of the evaluation. In-person interviews with youth obtain information on youth characteristics, program interventions and services, moderating factors, and intermediate and longer-term outcomes. In-person interviews are conducted with program administrators, community advocates, and directors of community provider agencies. Focus groups are conducted with youth, independent living program staff, and other agency staff responsible for referring youth to the programs. Child and family demographics, child welfare placement history, physical and mental health status, and delinquency history will be obtained through extracts of state administrative data. This study is being coordinated with other Children’s Bureau-funded efforts designed to meet the evaluation requirements of CFCIP.