Transitional Living Program Special Population Demonstration Report

Publication Date: March 12, 2021
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  • Pages: 53
  • Published: 2021


Research Questions

  1. How did grantees design and implement TLP housing and supportive service models for the TLP Demonstration?
  2. How did grantees incorporate promising intervention strategies such as screening and assessment tools; comprehensive services; and safe, stable, and appropriate shelter?
  3. How did grantees help youth build protective factors; for example, positive connections with schools, employment, health care, legal services, and appropriate family members and other adults?
  4. How did grantees encourage a sense of inclusion, relevance, and respect, as well as protect against harassment, for youth in the program?
  5. What challenges and successes did grantees experience in implementing the Demonstration?

This report documents the findings from a process study of the Transitional Living Program (TLP) Special Population Demonstration Project (“the Demonstration”). The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided funding for the Demonstration, which ran from September 2016 to September 2018.

TLP was created under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to provide safe and stable housing and comprehensive supportive services to runaway and homeless youth ages 16 to 22 for up to 18 months. Through these activities, TLP aims to increase youth's stable housing, education, employment, permanent supportive connections, social and emotional well-being, and ultimately their self-sufficiency.

The Demonstration was intended to support TLPs in implementing enhanced and innovative services for two populations of youth at a heightened risk of homelessness: youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ) and young adults who left foster care after age 18. FYSB funded the nine organizations selected for the Demonstration to operate enhanced and innovative service models for 24 months with the goal of achieving measurable progress towards self-sufficiency among those served.


The objective of this process study was to document how TLP Special Population Demonstration grantees designed and implemented their specialized program models, challenges encountered, and lessons learned.

Key Findings and Highlights

Grantees Designed and Implemented TLP Housing and Supportive Service Models
Grantees weighed the benefits and disadvantages when selecting one of three TLP housing models: single-site facilities in which TLP participants lived together in a group house, clustered apartments within a single apartment complex, and scattered-site apartments. All Demonstration TLPs provided case managers that worked with youth to develop individual service plans (ISPs) and conducted screenings and assessments of youth to help inform ISP development.

Grantees Helped Youth Build Protective Factors
TLPs employed aspects of the positive youth development framework designed specifically for youth who identified as LGBTQ and those who left foster care after age 18, and were aimed at helping youth generate self-acceptance. TLP staff recognized that many youth entering the TLPs lacked personal connections to family and others and had frequently experienced social rejection. Thus, grantees helped youth build protective factors through family mediation sessions, mentorship programs, and outings with peers.

Grantees Encouraged a Sense of Inclusion, Relevance, and Respect
Several TLPs designed screening processes that minimized the burden on youth and enhanced the opportunities for trauma-informed engagement from the outset. TLPs also developed strategies to protect youth from harassment by encouraging a sense of inclusion, relevance, and respect among youth.

Grantees Experienced Challenges Implementing the Demonstration
TLPs experienced two common challenges: (1) finding an appropriate referral source for LGBTQ youth or young adults who left foster care after age 18, (the two target populations) and (2) creating a program and service network to serve youth with higher levels of trauma and mental health issues than originally anticipated. Additionally, during eligibility determination and enrollment, youth were frequently reluctant to discuss their trauma histories and sexual identities and were often overwhelmed by enrollment paperwork and processes. In many cases, the TLPs developed innovative strategies to surmount these challenges.


Data collection for this process study included review of grantee applications and online materials and one- to two-day site visits with each of the nine grantees in May 2018. Prior to conducting the site visits, the research team reviewed the grant applications and notes on each grantee’s implementation of the Demonstration. During each site visit, research staff toured the housing facilities and conducted interviews with the organization’s executive director, TLP program director or manager, and other key TLP program staff such as case managers and clinical service providers.

The study team used the data collected during the site visits to conduct a cross-site analysis to identify and describe common practices and approaches to serving youth in the Demonstration TLPs. The authors highlighted crosscutting themes and illustrative approaches and practices that emerged from the data.


de Sousa, Tanya, Adrienne Smith, Hannah Engle, Alisa Santucci, Meghan Henry, Alvaro Cortes, and Jessica Thornton Walker (2021). Transitional Living Program: Special Population Demonstration, OPRE Report #2021-35, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
General Education Diploma
Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Individual Service Plan
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning
Positive Youth Development
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Demonstration:
The TLP Special Population Demonstration Project
Trauma Informed Care
The Family and Youth Services Bureau's Transitional Living Program