MDRC in the News

The Simple Way One Tennessee Program Turns Foster Kids into Higher-Earning Adults

The Washington Post


…..For American kids raised in foster care, one stumble can derail adulthood, said Erin Valentine, a sociologist at MDRC who studies adult outcomes for such youth. Every year, roughly 23,000 teenagers nationwide like McKernan age out of the system. National data shows they face much tougher odds than their peers in the general population.

Former foster kids are about twice as likely to tangle with the law: Up to 40 percent of men and 10 percent of women who grew up in foster care will be arrested, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin. They also have more trouble finding stable shelter: A University of Chicago study found 36 percent of former foster kids at age 26 reported experiencing homelessness…..

…..From 2010 to 2012, Valentine’s team of researchers followed 1,322 young adults in Tennessee, ages 18 to 24, who had recently aged out of foster care or the juvenile custody system. About 790 entered a state program called  YVLifeSet, which is run by the national non-profit Youth Villages. The rest, dubbed the control group, did not.

The YVLifeSet group received weekly counseling from a case manager for up to nine months. They went over how to make a resume, apply for a job, nail an interview and snag scholarships for college. They talked about forming healthy relationships and avoiding drugs. They wrote down a list of short-term goals to achieve: GED, driver’s license, one month’s sobriety. They sent texts like: Did you remember to fill out your FAFSA form?

In other words, Valentine said: The case managers act like stand-in parents…..

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