Foster Youth and the Transition to Adulthood:  Findings from the Midwest Study
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Foster Youth and the Transition to Adulthood: Findings from the Midwest Study Mark Courtney, Principal Investigator Amy Dworsky, Project Director. Presentation Outline. Background and Policy Context Midwest Study Design and Sample Natural Experiment Major Findings

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Foster Youth and the Transition to Adulthood: Findings from the Midwest Study

Mark Courtney, Principal Investigator

Amy Dworsky, Project Director


Presentation outline
Presentation Outline the Midwest Study

  • Background and Policy Context

  • Midwest Study

  • Design and Sample

  • Natural Experiment

  • Major Findings

  • Policy and Practice Implications


Background
Background the Midwest Study

  • Approximately 20,000 foster youth who do not achieve permanency “age out” of care each year

  • Their transition to adulthood is likely to be more challenging than that faced by youth with the financial and emotional supports that parents typically provide

  • Title IV-E Independent Living Program created in 1985 to help states prepare their foster youth to live on their own

  • Replaced by the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 which created the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program


Foster care independence act of 1999
Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 the Midwest Study

  • Doubled the amount of federal funding available to states

  • Allowed states to use up to 30 percent of their funds to pay for room and board (prohibited under Title IV-E)

  • Requires states to provide after-care services to former foster youth until age 21 (state option under Title IV-E)

  • Granted states the option of extending Medicaid coverage to 18- to 20-year-old former foster youth but only 17states have exercised this option

  • Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program provides foster youth with up to $5,000 per year for post-secondary education or training (2001 amendment)


Design and purpose of the midwest study
Design and Purpose of the Midwest Study the Midwest Study

  • Largest longitudinal study of foster youth making the transition to adulthood under FCIA

  • Provide states with information about the outcomes of these youth that can be used to better address this population’s needs

  • Sample included foster youth in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois who:

    • Were still in care at age 17

    • Had entered care before their 16th birthday

    • Had been placed in care because they were neglected or abused



Natural experiment
Natural Experiment the Midwest Study

  • State laws differ with respect to extending court supervision of foster youth beyond age 18

  • Illinois has been one of the few states that allows foster youth to remain in care until age 21

  • 47 percent of the youth interviewed at age 19 were still in care---all but two from Illinois

  • Compare their outcomes to the outcomes of the other 53 percent


Demographic characteristics
Demographic Characteristics the Midwest Study











Pregnancy and parenthood at age 19 by care status
Pregnancy and Parenthood at Age 19 at Age 19 by Care Statusby Care Status


Criminal justice system involvement since baseline by care status
Criminal Justice System Involvement Since Baseline by Care Status

By age 19, 68% of males and 46% of females had ever been arrested.

By age 19, 52% of males and 29% of females had ever been incarcerated



Summary of findings
Summary of Findings Status

  • Youth aging out of foster care continue to face significant and often multiple challenges during the transition to adulthood and many are still not prepared to live independently

  • However, foster youth who were still in care at age 19 were faring better across a number of domains than their peers who had left

  • Results raise questions about the wisdom of federal and state policies that require or encourage states to discharge youth at age 18


Policy implications
Policy Implications Status

  • Need for policy change at both the state and federal level so that foster youth can remain in care until age 21 regardless of whether they are working or in school

  • Federal government could modify Title IV-E so that states can claim reimbursement for foster care maintenance payments made on behalf of youth beyond age 18

  • All states could increase access to health and mental health care services by extending Medicaid coverage to former foster youth until age 21



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