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Improving Practice, Policy and Outcomes: Involving Young People in the Collection and Analysis of Information
Improving Practice, Policy and Outcomes: Involving Young People in the Collection and Analysis of Information Clark Peters, PhD, MSW, JD
How do we involve youths in their own cases? • Who? • What? • When? • Where? • Why?
Ongoing efforts • National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) • Quality Service Reviews • Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Survey of Youth Case Engagement
NationalYouth in Transition Database (NYTD) • Based on the Midwest Study (a.k.a., the Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth) • Includes young adults in and out of care • Findings cover a range of topics • Financial self-sufficiency • Education • Adult connections • Experiences with homelessness • High-risk behaviors • Access to health insurance • Federally encouraged, but only a modest penalty for states to opt out • Implementation has been spotty. At age 19: • Nationally 69% of youth completed the survey • State response rates vary widely, from 26% to 95%
Quality Service Reviews (QSRs) • Comprehensive, state-based reviews of selected cases • Example: Tennessee • Defines a QSR as an "action-oriented learning process that provides a way of knowing what is working/not working in practice and why for selected children and families receiving services” • Results are calculated statewide and by region • Among the QSR indicators • Voice and Choice for the Child and Family • Engagement • Teamwork and Coordination
Case Planning Requirements • Development of a case plan that is reviewed at least once every 6 months. • For a child age 16 or over, the case plan must include . . . a written description of the programs and services which will help such child prepare for the transition from foster care to independent living. 42 U.S.C § 675 (1)(D) • These requirements have been in place for many years, but now must be reexamined for young adults in care.
Continuing Requirements for Case Reviews • The court must find what services are needed for a youth 16 and older to transition from foster care to independence. • The court must find that reasonable efforts are being made to finalize the permanency plan. • States must implement procedural safeguards to ensure that at all hearings the court consults in an age-appropriate manner, with the child regarding the proposed permanency or transition plan for the child. 42 U.S.C. § 675(5); 45 C.F.R. § 1356.21(b)(2)(i)
New Requirements for Court Reviews Each state’s case review system must include procedures that ensure that during the 90-day period immediately prior to the age of discharge, the agency must provide the child with assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child, includes specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and work force supports and employment services, and is as detailed as the child may elect. 42 U.S.C. § 675(5)(H)
How do we involve youths in their own cases? • Who? • The young person himself/herself • A representative, legal or otherwise • Whatshould be the content of the review? • When should hearings be conducted? • Where? • Are courtrooms “user friendly” and likely to elicit youth participation? • Are there other places that serve the goals of case review and due process better? • Why?
Survey Overview • Questions focused on • Participation in court and administrative hearings • Legal and informal representation • All respondents are from one urban county in a state with a county-administered child welfare system • Respondents were all over 18 and in a special program aimed at supporting young people in college • A total of 52 responses, almost all completed in-person, others mailed and returned
Findings: Court Review • Half “rarely” or “never” attending court hearings • When attending, most young people (65%) reported that they “always or almost always” understood what took place • Fewer (48%) “always or almost always” or “sometimes” were able to “speak what was on [their] mind” • Fewer still (27%) felt “listened to” more than sometimes • Most of those who spoke felt that what they said made a difference in what happened in court (44% of the total)
Findings: Administrative Review • Most (81%) reported “always or almost always”” or “sometimes” attending administrative hearings • The same number (81%) wanted to attend • Almost all (88%) said they understood what took place • Most said they were able to speak their mind (79%) felt listened to (73%) what they said made a difference (58%)
Discussion • Many limitations to the dataset and analyses; the college-bound are the highest-functioning among the population • Rest of foster youth population are probably less engaged in their hearings and with their cases • Need to re-examine how we involve young adults in case planning • Consider opportunities provided by administrative hearings
Thanks! Clark Peters firstname.lastname@example.org
Improving Practice, Policy and Outcomes: Involving Young People in the Collection and Analysis of Information Eddye Vanderkwaak, Young Fellow Raquel Pfeifer, Consultant Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
Youth Transition Decision making • How it works • Focus on short and long term goals • Who is involved • Individuals that can help the young person meet their goals • The role of the young person
Evaluation of Youth Transition Decision Making Why evaluate? Evaluation design Engagement of young people
Survey Design Text/email/written Clarity of questions Timeliness Space to ask questions
Engaging Young People in Evaluation Why it’s important Preparation needed for effectiveness
Youth Leadership Institute Strategic sharing and messaging to multiple audiences Data as an advocacy tool Evaluation can be fun!
Knowledge is power Engaged in creation of evaluation tools Engaged in the review of evaluation tools and materials
Improving Practice, Policy and Outcomes: Involving Young People in the Collection and Analysis of Information The Opportunity Passport™ Participant Survey and Self-Evaluation Erica Bjerke, Research Associate, Metis Associates
Opportunity Passport™ Participant Survey (OPPS): An Overview • What it is: A web-based survey • Purpose: To collect self-reported outcome and demographic data on young people who participate in the Opportunity Passport™ • Outcomes: Permanence, education, employment, financial capability, housing, physical and mental health, and social capital • When it’s taken: At enrollment, then every April and October thereafter • How it’s used: In self-evaluation by the national Jim Casey Initiative and by Jim Casey sites
Role of Young People in OPPS Young people as… • Designers: developing the survey • Communicators: conveying the importance of the survey • Sources of information: taking the survey • Evaluators: using survey data in self-evaluation
Young People as Designers • Reviewing the survey • Pre-testing the survey • Giving feedback about the survey • Developing new questions • Piloting new questions
Young People as Communicators OPPS Training Module Why should I take OPPS? We want to keep learning as much as possible about the lives of young people leaving foster care. By taking the survey, you are helping people understand what life is like for these young people.
Young People as Sources of Information Strategies for high response rates • Communicating the importance of the survey • Providing incentives • Making the survey accessible • Ensuring young people’s anonymity
Young People as Evaluators • OPPS as a tool for self-evaluation • Self-evaluation: “a systematic and organized way for sites to collect and use information to guide decisions and to measure the degree to which they are achieving improved outcomes for young people transitioning from foster care” • Youth membership on self-evaluation teams • An example from Iowa
Highlights of the Self-Evaluation Work • Michigan • Lower graduation rates compared to national Initiative • Hiring of educational planners • Increased GED and high school diploma rates • Hawaii • Safe, stable, and affordable housing a priority • OPPS data and young people’s stories inform work • Creation of housing opportunities • Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative example
Looking Ahead: Measuring Authentic Youth Engagement • Participation in Youth Leadership Boards and other activities • Young people’s perceptions of involvement in their local Jim Casey Initiative work • Extent of involvement • Effect of involvement • Staff perceptions of youth engagement
Questions & Answers Thanks for your participation!