Building the Evidence on Preventing Homelessness among Former Foster Youth

Supporting and evaluating the Youth Transitions Partnership in Alameda County

The high rate of homelessness among young people who have been in foster care is well documented.  One Chapin Hall study of those making the transition from foster care to adulthood in California found a quarter had been homeless for one night between ages 19 and 21 and nearly 20 percent had experienced homelessness at some point while in extended foster care. Another recent Chapin Hall report found that many youth who experienced homelessness saw entry into foster care as the beginning of their housing instability.

In 2013, the Children’s Bureau funded the multi-phase Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH) grant program 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.  Eighteen grantees received phase one funding for a two-year planning grant (2013 – 2015). Six of those grantees received phase two funding for a three-year initial implementation grant (2015 – 2018).

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago has drawn on its deep expertise in child welfare and youth homelessness to serve as the local evaluator for the YARH site in Alameda County, CA. Research Fellow Amy Dworsky, Researcher Laura Packard Tucker, and Associate Researcher Molly Van Drunen partnered with staff at the Alameda County Social Services Agency and First Place for Youth to conduct an implementation and outcomes evaluation of the Youth Transitions Partnership (YTP) program.

The YTP intervention is an innovative model that involves comprehensive assessment, service coordination, intensive case management, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and individualized supports.  The goal of the intervention is to improve engagement with youth at the highest risk for homelessness and ensure their sustained access to the services they need.

As the local evaluator, the Chapin Hall team:

  • Documented the program’s essential elements through the development of a logic model, theory of change, and PICO template (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcomes)
  • Captured youth voice about their program experiences
  • Examined implementation successes and challenges around enrollment, service delivery, program fidelity, and youth outcomes
  • Created manuals about the intervention to support replicability
  • Led a CQI process that includes regular, evidence-driven discussions among the partners

This evaluation was completed in 2020. For more information about this work, including how it can be replicated in your community, contact Laura Packard Tucker.