How Employment Programs Can Support Young People Transitioning Out of Foster Care. Formative Evaluation Findings of Two Employment Programs
Jiffy Lansing, Hannah Daly, Michael Pergamit,
Learning how to succeed in the world of work during the transition to adulthood is a universal need, and young people aging out of foster care are no exception. But research consistently finds that compared with other young people, those aging out of foster care have less stable employment, work fewer hours and earn lower wages as they enter adulthood (Courtney et al. 2001; Hook and Courtney 2011; Dworsky 2005; Goerge et al. 2002), while often having greater demands to support themselves financially (Berzin et. al 2011; Dworsky, Napolitano, and Courtney 2013; Havlicek, Garcia, and Smith 2013; Keller et al. 2010; Pecora et al. 2003; Dworsky and Gitlow 2017). This report examines two employment programs that focus explicitly on young people transitioning to adulthood from foster care and purposefully address this population’s unique experiences and needs.
Coming of Age: Employment Outcomes for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care Through Their Middle Twenties
Urban Institute, University of California Berkley, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Studies of former foster youth who age out of care find that these youth generally experience high unemployment, unstable employment patterns, and earn very low incomes in the period between ages 18 and 21 (Cook, 1991; Courtney et al., 2001; Dworsky and Courtney, 2001; Goerge, Bilaver, Lee, Needell, Brookhart and Jackman, 2002). 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.
Robert M. George, Lucy Bilaver, Barbara Needell, Alan Brookhart, William Jackman
The purpose of this report is to provide information on the employment outcomes of children exiting foster care near their eighteenth birthdays in California, Illinois, and South Carolina during the mid-1990s. We report when they begin 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. We compare these outcomes to those for youth who were reunified with their parents prior to their eighteenth birthday and to low-income youth.
The Role of Placement Instability on Employment and Educational Outcomes Among Adolescents Leaving Care
Martin Goyette, Alexandre Blanchet, Tonino Esposito, Ashleigh Delaye
Placement instability negatively impacts the lives of youth placed in out-of-home care, and research on the topic indicates that it is related to negative long-term outcomes for youth in care. This study uses information gathered from two waves of interviews conducted with a representative sample of 1136 Quebec youths who were first met at around 16 years of age when they were still in out of home placement, and at around age 18 when most of them had left placement. The youths’ associated administrative child welfare data were also used to examine the relationships between placement instability, education outcomes, and occupational status. We find that youth who experience more placement instability have a much higher probability of dropping out of school early, and not to be acquiring work experience. Our results also indicated that these youths have a much lower probability to receive a high school degree.
A Multi-Level Analysis of the Effects of Independent Living Programs on Educational Attainment, Employment, and Housing Outcomes of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
Youth aging out of foster care system normally face multiple disadvantages in terms of educational attainment, employment, housing, financial stability, and life skills compared with children in the general population. About two-thirds of eligible youth in care receive Independent Living Programs (ILPs), which are designed to support youth and ensure a successful transition to adulthood. The objective of this paper is to examine whether ILPs are effectively promoting better outcomes (e.g., educational attainment, employment, housing) for youth aging out of foster care. Using data from the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), this study used Hierarchical Generalized Linear Models (HGLM) to investigate how different services from ILPs impact the educational attainment, employment, and homelessness of youth aging out of foster care across all 50 states in the United States. The study sample included youth in foster care from a FY 2014 cohort (N = 5633) on Wave 3 at age 21. Controlling for all the covariates, youth who received post-secondary educational support, budget and financial management, and financial assistance for education were more likely to achieve higher educational attainment. Youth who received post-secondary educational support and supervised independent living were more likely to get employed. The results indicated that certain types of ILPs services were associated with positive outcomes in terms of education, employment and housing. Post-secondary educational support service was found to be the most effective type of service for improving all the outcomes. The findings suggest the importance of providing ILPs to youth aging out of foster care. In addition, variation in service delivery and implementation fidelity across states must be taken into consideration.
Making the Transition: How Asset Building Services Can Promote Positive Adult Outcomes for Foster Youth
Melanie L. Nadon
Foster youth in the U.S. often face a multitude of adverse outcomes, including low educational attainment, elevated rates of adult poverty, and disproportionately high levels of adult homelessness. One newer area of social policy research and advocacy, asset building, may help explain some of these disparities. Foster youth face several barriers to asset building. For example, many youth have several placements during their stay in care, resulting in youth receiving inconsistent schooling, mentoring, and support, and facing limited opportunities to work, save money, or build academic and professional networks. This paper examines the frequency with which transition-age foster youth receive asset building services and whether the youth who receive services experience improved outcomes compared to those who do not. Analyzing data from the National Youth in Transition Database and using a Propensity Score Matching methodology, this study finds that youth receiving Budgeting and Financial Education Services and Post-Secondary Education Services experience significantly improved outcomes, including reduced likelihood of homelessness and increased likelihood of employment and educational enrollment. However, only 29% of youth receive Budgeting and Financial Education Services, and only 19% of youth receive Post-Secondary Education Services. Service receipt also covaries with demographics, including race/ethnicity and education level. These findings have noteworthy implications for both policy and practice as asset building for foster youth is a potentially promising realm for public service expansion.
Does Education Pay for Youth Formerly in Foster Care? Comparison of Employment Outcomes with a National Sample
Nathanael J. Okpych, Mark E. Courtney
Each year tens of millions of federal dollars are invested to promote secondary and postsecondary educational attainment among older youth in foster care. Despite the presumption that this is a sound investment, as indicated by copious research from studies of the general U.S. population, research examining the payoff among youth transitioning to adulthood from state care has been sparse. In the present study, we analyze the relationship between educational attainment and employment outcomes among youth exiting care. Drawing on data from a large, multi-state study of youth transitioning from foster care, findings indicate that increased education, and particularly degree completion, is associated with greater earnings and lower employment rates. Compared to young adults matched on educational attainment from a nationally representative study, youth formerly in foster care earn about half and the employment rate is 20 points lower. However, increased levels of education have larger benefits for youth who exited care than youth from the general population, and at higher levels of attainment the two groups have similar employment rates and earnings gaps become less pronounced. Among youth formerly in care, results from regression analyses indicate that, compared to individuals with no high school credential, a GED or certificate of completion predicts no benefits in earnings or likelihood of being employed; a diploma predicts an earnings benefit; and some college, a two-year degree, and a four-year degree or greater predict large benefits in earnings and likelihood of employment. We conclude by briefly discussing implications for policy, practice, and future research.
C. Joy Stewart, Hye-Chung Kum, Richard P. Barth, Dean F. Duncan
A youth’s departure from home marks the beginning of adulthood. Studies of former foster youth who aged out of care showed that these youth generally had poor employment outcomes in the period between ages 18 and 21. Using linked child welfare, wage and public assistance administrative data from three states (California, Minnesota and North Carolina), we investigated whether or not age-out youth continue to experience less employment and significantly lower earnings compared to their peers even into their mid-twenties in all three states and through the late twenties in North Carolina. The current study is the first to follow employment outcomes for age-out youth longitudinally up to age 30. We also assessed the significance of demographic, placement history and other factors on the employment and earnings of youth who aged out of foster care.
Study findings showed that low rates of employment and earnings persisted for age-out youth compared to the low-income and national samples through age 24 in all three states and age 30 for North Carolina. Further, we found that work experience prior to age 18 improved employment outcomes in the mid to late twenties in all three states and longer stays in care improved employment outcomes in two of the study states. The primary implication of the study is that former foster youth need assistance well into adulthood. Federal and state initiatives have focused on extending foster care to age 21. However, our findings suggest that these youth continue to struggle even up to age 30.
Effective Services for Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for Children and Alumni of Foster Care Service: Correlates and Educational and Employment Outcomes
Burt S. Marnow, Amy Buck, Kirk O’Brien, Peter Pecora, Mel Ling Ellis, Eric Steiner
Outcomes for youth from foster care have been found to be poor. The education and employment outcomes of youth and alumni of foster care served by transition programmes located in five major US cities were examined. Data were collected by case managers and reported to evaluators quarterly on 1058 youth from foster care for over 2 years. Job preparation, transportation, child care, education support services and life skills were the most common services provided to youth. During the 2-year study period, 35% of participants obtained employment, 23% obtained a General Education Development or diploma, and 17% enrolled in post-secondary education. It was found that the longer the youth were enrolled, the more education and employment outcomes they achieved. Further, job preparation and income support services were associated significantly with achieving any positive education or employment outcome. Results indicated that certain services provided over an extended period of time can improve outcomes for youth placed in foster care. For youth to achieve positive outcomes as they transition to adulthood, additional services are necessary. Other implications are discussed.
Employment Outcomes of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: The Importance of Human, Personal, and Social Capital
Jennifer L. Hook, Mark E. Courtney
In spite of a prevailing policy focus, little is known about the employment outcomes of former foster youth during early adulthood and the factors associated with those outcomes. We explore how former foster youth who aged out of care in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa are faring in the labor market at age 24 and what explains variability in employment and wages for these youth. We utilize multilevel models to analyze youth’s employment using four waves of the Midwest Study. Our findings point to a critical need to better understand and address barriers to education, causes of substantial racial disparities, and characteristics of family foster homes that facilitate youths’ employment. We find that youth who remain in care past age 18 attain higher educational credentials which translate into better employment outcomes. This research also highlights the need for policies directed at current and former foster youth who become early parents.
Educational and Employment Outcomes of Adults Formerly Placed in Foster Care: Results from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study
Peter J. Pecora, Ronald C. Kessler, Kirk O’Brien, Catherine Roller White, Jason Williams, Eva Hiripi, Diana English, James White, Mary Anne Herrick
This study evaluated the intermediate and long-term effects of family foster care on adult functioning using a sample of 659 young adults from two public and one private child welfare agencies, case record reviews, structured interviews, and a survey response rate of 76%. Foster care alumni completed high school at a rate comparable to the general population, but a disproportionately high number of them completed high school via a GED. Alumni completion rates for postsecondary education were low. Consequently, many alumni were in fragile economic situations: one-third of the alumni had household incomes at or below the poverty level, one-third had no health insurance, and more than one in five experienced homelessness after leaving foster care. Two foster care experience areas were estimated to significantly reduce the number of undesirable outcomes in the Education outcome domain: positive placement history (e.g., high placement stability, few failed reunifications), and having broad independent living preparation (as exemplified by having concrete resources upon leaving care). For the Employment and Finances outcome domain, receiving broad independent living preparation (as exemplified by having concrete resources upon leaving care) was estimated to significantly reduce the number of undesirable outcomes.
Cheryl Stankiewicz Davis
Prior research has consistently demonstrated that foster youth emancipated from care experienced tremendous challenges and poor outcomes in their transition to adulthood and independent living. Using administrative data from the child welfare, unemployment insurance, and public welfare information systems, this study examined whether youth who emancipated from care in Sacramento County, CA in 2006 and participated in federally legislated enhanced supportive services had better outcomes at age 22 than those emancipated youth who did not receive those services. Consistent with previous research, many of the emancipated foster youth in this study experienced poor employment outcomes on several measures. At age 22, the former foster youth followed four patterns for sources of income: no income, relying on public assistance solely, combining work and public assistance to make ends meet, and working. While this study joins previous research in finding no relationship between Independent Living Program and employment development services with employment outcomes, the findings do appear to follow new emerging research showing the importance of permanency in family relationships as a predictor of post-foster care outcomes (Avery, 2010). Securing more permanent and stable placement with relatives is associated with greater connection to the workforce and higher wages, which in turn, should help these young persons more successfully transition to adulthood.