Locating and Engaging Youth after They Leave Foster Care: Experiences Fielding the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs

Publication Date: May 15, 2012


Locating youth who have aged out of foster care has become a pressing policy concern. The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (FCIA) required the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop a data collection system to (1) track the independent living services states provide to youth in foster care and (2) collect outcome measures for young people currently and formerly in foster care in order to assess each state’s performance in operating their independent living programs. Toward that end, ACF has established a rule under 45 CFR Part 1356 requiring states to collect and provide certain information to create the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD). The NYTD requires states to collect information from youth currently and formerly in foster care at ages 17, 19, and 21. States began collecting data from 17-year-olds in October 2010.

Recent research efforts that have followed youth as they aged out of foster care have succeeded in finding and engaging youth. From these efforts, it is possible to consider some of the practices that will lead to high response rates in the NYTD. One such research effort is the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs, an evaluation of four programs funded under the FCIA. This brief uses the sample of youths studied in the evaluation of Los Angeles’s Life Skills Training (LST) program.

This brief begins with an overview of the Multi-Site Evaluation and information on the successes of the locating effort undertaken during this evaluation. The brief also includes information on the process for locating youth, methods and tools that can be used to track youth, and locations where youth are frequently found. The discussion concludes by offering lessons learned that could be used by states as part of their NYTD data collection.

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