Approximately 510,000 children lived in out-of-home care on September 30, 2006, the most recent date for which national estimates are available. In fiscal year 2006, over 26,000 youths remained in care until they were legally “emancipated” to “independent living,” usually due to reaching age 18 or upon graduation from high school. On average, these youths have limited education and employment experience, relatively poor mental and physical health, and a relatively high likelihood of experiencing unwanted outcomes such as homelessness, incarceration, and nonmarital pregnancy.
The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 amended Title IV-E to create the John Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), giving states more funding and greater flexibility in providing support to youth making the transition to independent living. It also required evaluation of such services. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners—the Chapin Hall Center for Children and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago—to conduct this evaluation. The goal of this study is to determine the impacts of the programs funded under CFCIP in achieving key outcomes for youth. Four programs are being evaluated under this contract, and this report provides results for one of those programs.
The evaluation provides ample evidence of the continuing prevalence of education deficits among foster youth. Given these deficits, access to tutoring would seem to be a reasonable service to provide foster youth to help prepare them for independent living. However, with respect to the ESTEP-Tutoring program, our impact evaluation did not find compelling evidence that this program had any beneficial impact on the outcomes we assessed.