Demonstration Project to Improve Outcomes for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Yields Mixed Results

Youth aging out of foster care have a complicated pathway when transitioning to adulthood; without support from family members or other adults, they often struggle to achieve self-sufficiency and are particularly at risk of experiencing homelessness. To address these challenges, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) created a demonstration to combine the youth component of the Family Unification Program (FUP) with the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program. The FUP-FSS Demonstration was designed to test whether combining these two federal programs could improve outcomes for youth who age out of foster care and are at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness.  HUD contracted with the Urban Institute and its partner, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, to evaluate the FUP-FSS Demonstration’s implementation and short-term effectiveness in helping youth aging out of foster care move toward self-sufficiency.

What We Did

  • We analyzed HUD administrative data from 2016 through 2020, the first 5 years of the Demonstration, for all Public Housing Agencies with a FUP allocation, regardless of whether they were participating in the Demonstration.
  • We surveyed Public Housing Agency and Public Child Welfare Agency staff in the 51 Demonstration sites.
  • We interviewed 60 program staff and 13 youth participants.

What We Found

  • Overall Demonstration participation—and more broadly, the use of FUP vouchers by youth—is increasing but remains low.
  • In practice, Public Housing Agencies and Public Child Welfare Agencies are less collaborative than envisioned.
  • The timing of FSS enrollment varies by site.
  • Sites that assign all youth to a single FSS program coordinator report that youth are highly engaged.
  • Some PHAs adapted their FSS program to better align with youth needs.
  • Youth reported valuing the FSS services and support they received.

What It Means

Because youth cannot access FSS without first successfully leasing up a housing unit with a FUP voucher, the Demonstration’s success depends as much on improving FUP as it does on improving FSS. Thus far, relatively few youth have graduated from the FSS program. A longer-term evaluation is needed to determine whether participation in the Demonstration is associated with stable housing and self-sufficiency.

Read the report on the HUD User website

Recommended Citation
Solari, C., Pergamit, M., Treskon, M., O'Brien, M., Rogin, A., Gerken, M., Loveless, A., Reed, M., & Dworsky, A. (2021). Family Unification Program-Family Self Sufficiency Demonstration Evaluation. Prepared for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.