Supporting Transition-Age Youth through the Federal Chafee Program

About 20,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 21 age out of foster care each year. Many of them are not prepared to live on their own. On average, compared to their peers, youth formerly in foster care have lower rates of postsecondary educational attainment but higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, and public assistance receipt.

The Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee program) provides funds that states can use to prepare young people in foster care for the transition to adulthood and to support them during that transition. The Chafee program, formerly known as the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, was established by the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 and is administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Young people between the ages of 14 and 21, or up to age 23 in states that extend foster care to age 21, are eligible for Chafee-funded services.

Key to improving outcomes for young people in foster care is learning about the effectiveness of these services. By law, HHS is required to reserve a portion of Chafee funding to evaluate programs deemed to be “innovative or of national significance.” ACF contracted with the Urban Institute and its partners—Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and NORC—to conduct a rigorous evaluation of several Chafee-funded programs. This evaluation builds on findings from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs, formalizes a plan for future evaluation activities, and engages in formative evaluation activities.

This research collection features reports and briefs from this body of work authored or coauthored by Chapin Hall researchers. At Chapin Hall, we are committed to conducting research that informs practice and points to actionable solutions.

A complete collection of the briefs and reports related to the Chafee program can be found on the Administration for Children & Families website. If you have questions about Chapin Hall’s contribution to this work or about programs for transition-age young people in foster care more generally, please contact Dr. Amy Dworsky.