The California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH)

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 amended Title IV-E to extend the age of Title IV-E eligibility from 18 to 21 for foster care youth. Under provisions of the law, states now have the option to extend care, but are not required to do so. A number of states have adopted legislation to extend care and others are considering doing so. California enacted the California Fostering Connections to Success Act in 2010 and began extending care on January 1, 2012. With the largest state foster care population in the U.S., it is arguably the most important early adopter of the new policy.

Research on the extension of foster care in California began with early implementation studies documenting the history of the legislation and the planning process for implementing California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act. Following the early implementation studies, the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH) was initiated in 2012.

Study Overview

CalYOUTH is an evaluation of the impact of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act on outcomes during the transition to adulthood for foster youth. CalYOUTH includes collection and analysis of information from three sources: 1) transition-age youth, 2) child welfare workers, and 3) government program data. The study, led by Mark Courtney and conducted in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services and California County Welfare Directors Association, is being carried out over a 8-year period from 2012–2020.

The overall study addresses three primary research questions:

  • Does extending foster care past age 18 influence youths’ outcomes during the transition to adulthood (e.g., education, employment, health, housing, parenting, and general well-being)?
  • What factors influence the types of support youth receive during the transition to adulthood in the context of extended foster care?
  • How do living arrangements and other services that result from extended foster care influence the relationship between extending care and youth outcomes?

To answer these questions, CalYOUTH is following youth (N = 727) ages 17 through 21 using in-person interviews. In addition, CalYOUTH conducted an online survey of 235 child welfare workers to obtain their perceptions on key characteristics of the service delivery context of extended foster care. Finally, CalYOUTH completed a qualitative study of youths’ living arrangements including observations of multiple living settings and open-ended interviews with young adults and staff and caregivers in these settings.

AB 12 Background

These reports provide information about the creation and implementation of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12).

Legislative History Report

Implementation Report

Qualitative Study Report

Longitudinal Youth Study

The Longitudinal Youth Study has followed youth from ages 17 to 21 and provides a comprehensive view of young adults making the transition from foster care to adulthood in California. A fourth round of interviews is scheduled to collect information from youth at age 23.

Youth Report (Age 17)

Youth Report (Executive Summary)

Youth Report (Age 19)

Youth Report (Age 19): Los Angeles County

Youth Report (Age 21)

Child Welfare Worker Surveys

These reports survey case workers supervising youth in extended foster care who are participating in the CalYOUTH Youth Survey. The reports share the case workers’ views of how these young people are faring with the transition to adulthood.

Early Findings from the Child Welfare Worker Survey

CalYOUTH Survey of Young Adults’ Child Welfare Workers

Special Topic Memos

Youth and Caseworker Perspectives on Education Status and Services

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Service Utilization among Transition-Aged Foster Youth

Extended Foster Care and Legal Permanency

Extended Foster Care in California: Youth and Caseworker Perspectives

Extended Foster Care and Youths’ Outcomes at Age 19

Factors Associated with Youth Remaining in Foster Care as Young Adults

Predictors of High School Completion and College Entry at Ages 19/20

The Use of Psychotropic Medications among Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership