Alameda County’s Youth Transitions Partnership Program: A Promising Model for Supporting Transition-Age Youth in Foster Care

The Youth Transitions Partnership (YTP) blends service coordination, intensive case management, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help transition age youth in foster care in Alameda County, CA engage with support systems and improve their outcomes.  YTP was funded by the Children’s Bureau Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH) grant program.  This brief describes the YTP model, the results of the formative evaluation undertaken by Chapin Hall researchers, and the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process that was used to support YTP’s implementation.

What We Did

We conducted a formative evaluation of YTP that addressed questions about implementation, fidelity to the model, program engagement, and short-term outcomes.  We used enrollment data, which tracked potentially-eligible youth and their progression through the recruitment process; YTP program data, which provided information about youth assessments, action plans, goals, and services received; county child welfare administrative data; and qualitative data collected via interviews and focus groups with YTP coaches, administrators, child welfare workers and youth participants.  We focused on the 98 youth who were active in YTP from March 2016, when the program began, through April 2019.

What We Found

  • Participating youth showed a significant positive changes in employment, financial literacy and permanent connections.
  • Participating youth also experienced significant gains in their acquisition and use of DBT coping skills.
  • A majority of the youth we spoke with expressed positive feelings about DBT, the coping skills they learned, and the increased ability to regulate their emotions.
  • Youth generally described relationships with their coaches as positive, supportive, and consistent.
  • Having a well-managed CQI process ensured that the data needed for the formative evaluation were available, produced meaningful knowledge about the program, and informed ongoing changes to the program that contributed to its successful implementation. The CQI process and resulting program adaptations provide a strong foundation from which rigorous evaluation activities can be launched.

What It Means

Our findings suggest that pairing intensive case management with DBT is a promising approach for supporting youth in foster care as they transition to adulthood.  Although it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about the benefits of YTP, child welfare systems in other jurisdictions should consider developing and testing similar innovations to improve youth outcomes.  Evaluations of YTP and other similar programs can help to build the evidence base on what works to prevent homelessness among youth who have been involved in the child welfare system.

Recommended Citation
Packard Tucker, L., Dworsky, A., & Van Drunen, M. (2020). Alameda County’s Youth Transitions Partnership Program – A promising model for supporting transition-age youth in foster care. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
Youth Transitions Partnership Program Project Brief Evaluating YTP Implementation Full Report Alameda County CQI Brief