A Model for Supporting Youth in Care Transitioning into Adulthood

Evaluating the Illinois implementation of Youth Villages' LifeSet, a youth-driven model to support independence

Many young people aging out of the child welfare system are not prepared to live independently. Among other disparities, they face higher rates of unemployment and homelessness, on average, than their peers. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which provides services to prepare transition-age youth in care for independence through Transitional Living Program (TLP) and Independent Living (ILO) services, was one of four jurisdictions awarded funding by Youth Villages in 2018 to support the implementation of LifeSet.

LifeSet is an intensive, evidence-informed, youth-driven service delivery model designed to help youth develop the independent living skills necessary for a successful transition into adulthood. Over 3 years, Youth Villages will provide program support and training to DCFS TLP and ILO agencies selected to implement LifeSet with youth ages 17.5 to 21. The Illinois agencies currently implementing LifeSet services are: Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, UCAN, and Lawrence Hall. 

DCFS and Chapin Hall are partnering to evaluate the Youth Villages LifeSet program. This two-phase mixed-methods evaluation began in FY21.  

During Phase I, Chapin Hall researchers: 

  • reviewed materials provided by agency administrators and Youth Villages and conducted interviews with LifeSet administrators and supervisors at each agency to learn about how the model is being implemented and gain insights about implementation challenges,
  • used DCFS administrative data and program data collected by Youth Villages to compare the characteristics of youth who enter LifeSet TLP or ILO programs to the characteristics of youth who enter similar non-LifeSet programs, and
  • completed this interim report that identified model strengths as perceived by providers, and clarified needed steps to ensure accurate evaluation of the program.

During Phase II, Chapin Hall researchers interviewed youth who have participated in LifeSet to learn about their experiences with and impressions of LifeSet (we published a brief summarizing findings from these interviews). In addition, researchers will:

  • compare the outcomes of youth who entered LifeSet to the outcomes of a matched comparison group of youth who entered a similar non-LifeSet program, 
  • conduct focus groups with LifeSet case specialists to learn about their experiences working with youth using the LifeSet model, and
  • interview LifeSet supervisors to learn about implementation changes since their interview in Phase I.

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Amy Dworsky.