On Friday, January 29, 2021, Dr. Mark Courtney, the University of Chicago professor and the Principal Investigator of the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH), reported an update of California’s Extended Foster Care research. To preface, the goal of Extended Foster Care (EFC) is to “promote human capital acquisition, positive social connections, and general well-being as youth in foster care transition to adulthood.” In the previous California Youth Transitions to Adulthood (CalYOUTH) Study, they found that more time in EFC is significantly associated with the following outcomes at age 21:
- Education (secondary school completion & college enrollment)
- Criminal justice (lower arrest & conviction)
- Employment (more time employed)
The purpose of the current CalYOUTH study presented last Friday was to examine the relationships between EFC and youth outcomes at age 23, approximately two years after the EFC age limit.
Dr. Courtney noted that EFC remains a work in progress, citing county context as an important factor. County context determines the variance in quality of services youths receive and crucial outcomes they experience during their transition to adulthood. The research showed strong relationships between which county the young person is from and whether they were likely to remain in foster care, for how long, and what their education and employment outcomes were. Surprisingly, after reviewing the report findings, 25% of young people reported that they had experienced homelessness while in extended care. Black youth were more likely than their Hispanic peers to experience homelessness, while Hispanic and multi-racial youth were most likely to couch-surf.
Notwithstanding, Dr. Courtney presented similar encouraging results as in past EFC research. They found that EFC positively influences a range of outcomes: “education, employment, savings, food insecurity, criminal justice system involvement, and social support.” Additionally, they found no evidence of harm associated with time in EFC. The CalYOUTH study found the following relationships between an additional year in EFC and Age 23 Outcomes:
- Increased the probability that youth completed a high school credential by 8%
- Increased the probability of ever enrolling in college by 11.7%
- Increased the amount of money youth had in bank accounts each year by $642
- Decreased the receipt of need-based food assistance by $143
- Decreased the odds that youth had been arrested by approximately 28%
The CalYOUTH Study has been extended through 12/31/2022. The study will continue to analyze EFC and report on its influence with additional outcomes (e.g., justice system involvement and parenting) and deepen understanding of mechanisms like county context. Though the CalYOUTH Study examines California’s EFC outcomes, the results of the study could provide data to states looking to implement EFC as well.