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.
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 a cohort of youth (N = 727) using in-person interviews. The youth were interviewed at ages 17, 19, and 21, and a fourth round of interviews is currently underway with youth who are 23 years old. In addition, CalYOUTH conducted two online surveys of California child welfare workers to obtain their perceptions on key characteristics of the service delivery context of extended foster care. Finally, CalYOUTH is analyzing state administrative data of over 100,000 young people who were in California foster care dating back to 2006. These child welfare data are linked to other data sources to assess the impact of extended care on youths’ employment and earnings, postsecondary education, receipt of public benefits and disability insurance, and other outcome.
AB 12 Background
These reports provide information about the creation and implementation of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12).
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 currently underway and is collecting information from youth at age 23.
Child Welfare Worker Surveys
Two online surveys were administered to California child welfare workers who supervise older youth in foster care. The first caseworker survey (conducted in 2013) included a statewide representative sample of workers serving nonminor dependents, while the second caseworker survey (conducted in 2015) included the child welfare workers of youth who are participating in the Longitudinal Youth Study. The reports share the caseworkers’ views of how these young people are faring with the transition to adulthood, as well as workers’ perceptions of the independent living services and juvenile courts in their county.
Extended Foster Care Memos and Reports
The memos and reports in this section present findings on the context, trends, and impact of extended foster care in California.
Special Topic Memos
The memos in this section focus on topics that are of special interest to the practice and policy communities.