Kids in state custody, through foster care or the juvenile justice system, fare far worse in adulthood than their non-custodial peers. Transitional, independent living arrangements are trying to change that by giving these kids real life experience in a controlled environment. This report presents MDRC’s evaluation of one such program — the Transitional Living program located in Tennessee and operated by Youth Villages — to determine if it is actually making a difference.
Kids leaving state custody have a tough time catching up
Findings & Stats
Young adults with histories of foster care or juvenile justice custody don't succeed as well in many areas as their non-care/custody peers.
The Transitional Living program improved outcomes in 3 of the 6 domains that it was designed to affect.
Young people who were offered transitional services were more likely to work, had higher earnings, experienced less homelessness and material hardship, and had fewer mental health problems compared with those who were not offered the program’s services.
Very few rigorously tested programs for this population have been shown to be effective in helping these youth.
About 23,000 kids age out of the foster care system in the United States each year, while nearly 100,000 youths leave juvenile justice facilities each year.
In the Transitional Living program, services last nine months for most kids who successfully complete the program.
Statements & Quotations
The Transitional Living program, which is one example of an “independent living” program for young adults in need, is intended to help youth make the transition to adulthood by providing intensive, individualized, and clinically focused case management, support and counseling.
These results indicate that the Transitional Living program can improve multiple outcomes for young adults with histories of foster care or juvenile justice custody, a notable finding given the paucity of documented positive effects for programs that serve these populations.
Transitional Living boosted earnings, increased housing stability and economic well-being, and improved some of the primary outcomes related to health and safety. Transitional Living did not lead to statistically significant improvements in education, social support or criminal involvement.
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