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 the age of majority or upon graduation from high school. On average, these youth 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 effects of the programs funded under CFCIP in achieving key outcomes for youth. Four programs are being evaluated under this contract. The subject of this report is the Life Skills Training (LST) program of Los Angeles County.
The evaluation consists of two components: an impact study involving three in-person interviews over two years and a process study. The sample consists of youths who were in out-of-home care placements and were 17 years old at the time of assignment, eligible for Chafee services, and deemed appropriate for Life Skills Training. A total of 482 youths were deemed eligible for the evaluation and 234 were assigned to the LST (treatment) group, while 248 youths were assigned to the control group. At the baseline, 97 percent of eligible cases were interviewed, and 88 percent of these were interviewed at the second follow-up. Overall, 76.5 percent of the 234 youths in the LST group enrolled in an LST classroom module, 70.1 percent attended a session, and 65 percent graduated from a module.