Tutoring Program for Youth in Foster Care Shows Little Effect

In 1999, the John Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) allowed states more funding and flexibility to provide support to youth transitioning from foster care to independent living. The CFCIP contracted with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the Urban Institute, and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to determine the impacts of four CFCIP-funded programs. This report provides results for the evaluation the Early Start to Emancipation Tutoring program (ESTEP). The evaluation did not find compelling evidence that ESTEP had an impact on youth outcomes.

What we did

The evaluation partners identified four independent living programs to evaluate. The ESTEP-Tutoring Program in Los Angeles County was one of those programs. The evaluation used an experimental design where youths were randomly assigned to receive either ESTEP services or services as usual. We also conducted an impact study and process study that included interviews, reading and math skills assessments, questionnaires, program data analysis, and site visits.

What we found

The principal goals of ESTEP-Tutoring were to:

  1. Improve the reading and math skills of foster youth age 14 to 16, and
  2. Empower youth to use other educational services and resources that may be available to them.

We compared outcomes across four education-related areas. There were not any significant differences between youth in ESTEP and youth who received services as usual during a second follow-up with the youth.

What it means

In Los Angeles County, tutoring resources were fairly accessible to most of the youth in foster care. The lack of significant differences between foster youth in ESTEP and those who received services as usual indicate that efforts to improve educational outcomes for foster children and youth need to be varied. Youth in foster care need a number of different education-related resources, not just tutoring, to excel.

Recommended Citation
Bess, R. J., Courtney, M.E., Malm, K.E., & Zielewski, E.H. (July 2008). Evaluation of the Early Start to Emancipation Preparation Tutoring Program: Los Angeles County. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

Please note the full report is available on the U.S. Administration for Children and Families website, linked below.

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