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.
To build on findings from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs, ACF contracted with the Urban Institute and its partner Chapin Hall to plan for future evaluation activities, to engage in formative evaluation activities, and to develop a learning agenda to guide future work.
- Developing a learning agenda to address the needs of young parents in care (2021). This brief describes the development of a learning agenda focused on the needs of young parents in care.
- Supporting college students transitioning out of foster care: A formative evaluation report on the Seita Scholars Program (2020). This brief presents the results of a formative evaluation of one college success program—Western Michigan University’s Seita Scholars program. It describes the program, the students it serves, and its potential for rigorous evaluation.
- Specialized case management for young adults in extended foster care (2019). This brief describes the benefits and challenges associated with having case managers who specialize in working with young adults in extended foster care.
- Housing for young adults in extended federally funded foster care (2018). This brief examines housing options for young adults in extended foster care.
- Supporting youth transitioning out of foster care, issue brief 1: Education Programs (2015). This brief describes what we know about the educational attainment of young people in foster care and examines the landscape of programs aimed at improving their educational outcomes.
- Evaluation of the Independent Living Employment Services Program (2011). This report describes the results of a rigorous evaluation of an employment program. It found no evidence of impacts on young people’s outcomes.
- Evaluation of the Early Start to Emancipation preparation tutoring program (2008). This report describes the results of a rigorous evaluation of ESTEP. It found no evidence of impacts on young people’s outcomes.
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.