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 10-year period from 2012–2022.

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, 21, and 23. 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).

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 currently underway and is collecting 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)

Youth Report (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.

Early Findings from the Child Welfare Worker Survey

CalYOUTH Survey of Young Adults’ Child Welfare Workers

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.

County-Level Factors and Youths’ Extended Foster Care Participation

Extended Foster Care and Legal Permanency

Extended Foster Care and Legal Permanency: An Update from CalYOUTH

Extended Foster Care in California: Youth and Caseworker Perspectives

Factors Associated with Youth Remaining in Foster Care as Young Adults

Extended Foster Care and Youths’ Outcomes at Age 19

Extended Foster Care and Youths’ Outcomes at Age 21

Extended Foster Care and Postsecondary Education Outcomes

Extended Foster Care and Youths’ Outcomes at Age 23

Special Topic Memos

The memos in this section focus on topics that are of special interest to the practice and policy communities.

Relationships between Youth and Caseworker Perceptions of the Service Context and Foster Youth Outcomes

Youth and Child Welfare Workers’ Perceptions of Youths’ Educational Preparedness

Youth and Caseworker Perspectives on Education Status and Services

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

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

The Use of Psychotropic Medications among Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

Differences in Social Support at Age 19 by Extended Foster Care Status and Placement Type

Predictors of Homelessness at Age 21

Youth Characteristics and Predominant Placement Type

Trends in Justice Involvement from Ages 17 to 21

Foster Youth Roles in Planning Transition to Independent Adulthood

Predictors of College Degree Completion at Age 23

Colleges Most Frequently Attended by Older Youth in California Foster Care

California Child Welfare Co-Investment Partnership