Youth Engagement in Child Welfare Service Planning

December 21, 2018
Topics:
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care, Youth Services
Projects:
Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), 2013-2019 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Cover Youth Engagement in CW Planning
Download report (pdf)
  • File Size 499kb
  • Pages 7
  • Published 2018

Introduction

The Children’s Bureau funded a multi-phase grant program referred to as Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH) to build the evidence base on what works to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults who have been involved in the child welfare system. To date, there is very little evidence on how to meet the needs of this population.

In their work to develop new comprehensive service models through the YARH grants, the grantees engaged current and former youth in foster care during the planning process. The YARH grantees used a variety of strategies, from needs assessments to active roles in service planning, to integrate youth perspectives in service planning. Engaging youth helped ensure the proposed interventions—and the data analyses and assumptions underlying them—reflected the reality of the experiences youth have with the child welfare system.

Purpose

Youth and young adults with child welfare involvement face significant challenges in their transition to adulthood, challenges that increase their risk of becoming homeless. The Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families developed a multi-phase grant initiative for planning, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive service models intended to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement.

In September 2013, the Children’s Bureau awarded 18 grantees two-year planning grants to develop a comprehensive service model to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement. In September 2015, Children’s Bureau awarded six of the original 18 grantees three-year grants to refine and test their comprehensive service model.

YARH grantees used a variety of strategies to engage youth in the planning processes in grant Phases I and II. In this brief, we describe some of those efforts. We summarize the most common strategies and highlight three grantees’ strategies for engaging youth.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • The YARH funding opportunity announcement required grantees to analyze data on their target populations to identify risk factors and service gaps. All grantees analyzed existing administrative data. Many grantees augmented these sources by collecting new data directly from youth.
  • Many grantees went beyond engaging youth through data activities. They brought young people into the planning team’s decision-making process. Half of grantees had youth representatives on their planning teams.
  • During Phases I and II, Colorado conducted a large-scale effort to incorporate views of youth in foster care across the state into intervention planning and used innovative techniques to solicit youth feedback on early ideas for intervention services.
  • During Phase I, United Way of King County worked with the Mockingbird Society, a leader in Washington State child welfare reform, to engage youth in foster care in the initial stages of creating a new comprehensive service model.
  • Westchester County Department of Social Services’ engagement with youth in or formerly in foster care through Phases I and II helped launch a local youth movement and led to sustained collaboration with local alumni of foster care.

Methods

Data for this brief come from semiannual progress reports submitted by Phase I and II grantees and conversations between grantees and Mathematica technical assistance liaisons while developing and implementing comprehensive service models.

Citation

Gothro, Andrew, and Valerie Caplan (2018). Youth Engagement in Child Welfare Service Planning. OPRE Report No. 2018-98. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

OPRE
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Phase I
Grants awarded in 2013 by the Children’s Bureau to 18 communities in response to the funding opportunity announcement “Planning Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At Risk of Homelessness”
Phase II
Grants awarded in 2015 by the Children’s Bureau to 6 communities in response to the funding opportunity announcement “Implementing Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At Risk of Homelessness”
YARH
Youth At Risk of Homelessness, acronym used to represent the initiative funded by ACF to support communities in addressing homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement
Last Reviewed: December 19, 2018