About This Program

Target Population: Young adults between the ages 17 and 22 who are leaving the foster care, juvenile justice, and/or mental health systems

For children/adolescents ages: 17 – 22

Program Overview

LifeSet provides intensive in-home support and guidance to young adults leaving the foster care, juvenile justice, and/or mental health systems, as well as to others who find themselves at this stage in life without the necessary skills and supports to make a successful transition to adulthood. Program success is defined as a young adult's maintenance of stable and suitable housing, avoidance of negative legal involvement, participation in an educational/vocational program, and development of life skills necessary to become a successful, productive citizen. The program not only assists with young adults who are "aging out" of state custody, but also works with the young person's family and support systems to ensure a more successful transition.

Program Goals

The goals of the LifeSet program are:

  • Maintenance of stable and suitable housing
  • Avoidance of negative legal involvement
  • Participation in an educational/vocational program
  • Establishment of permanent relationships with caring adults
  • Development of the life skills necessary to become a successful, productive citizen

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for LifeSet.

Essential Components

The essential components of the LifeSet program include:

  • Low caseloads - LifeSet specialists work with 8 to 10 young adults at a time.
  • High intensity - LifeSet specialists have a minimum of one face-to-face contact with young adults weekly and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Individualized - Young adults determine the goals they want to pursue and specialists work with them in their own environment, seeing them at their home, work, school, or wherever is convenient for the young person. The program can begin while youth are still in custody and residing in a foster home by starting to address any concerns that exist around making a successful transition into adulthood.
  • Importance of family - Despite the disruption of relationships with their family of origin due to their entry into state custody, young adults who have aged out of care often find themselves wanting and/or needing to reestablish those relationships in a way that provides meaningful support and assistance. LifeSet specialists work with young adults to make connections and achieve healthy and supportive relationships with their family (however they define it).
  • Structured program model - LifeSet has a clearly defined logic model, specified assessment practices, a list of interventions customized to focus on each youth's particular need (such as increasing emotional regulation, alleviating behavioral struggles, and strengthening cognitive processes; providing psychoeducation about trauma; and providing goal-directed, client-centered counseling for eliciting behavioral change), and a structured supervision and consultation model that ensures the specialists' adherence to the program model and provides intensive support to LifeSet specialists as they work with the young adults.
  • Individual and system-focused services - Services are aimed not only at the individual but at all the areas (systems) that may affect the young adult (e.g., community, peer group, family, school, and work).
  • Multiple and individualized outcomes approach - Based on each young person's individual circumstances and needs, LifeSet specialists help young adults find and maintain employment, find affordable and safe housing, continue their education by applying for scholarships and pursuing state funding when available, accessing health care and organizing a support network.
  • Partnerships - LifeSet specialists collaborate with other programs/agencies to ensure that young adults are able to access all needed supports to reach their goals.
  • Evaluation and review - Adherence measures are gathered annually and quantify, from multiple sources and views, clinical and operational implementation of the key practice elements

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

LifeSet directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Youth who are aging out of the child welfare system
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: LifeSet specialists work not only with the individual young person, but in all areas (systems) that may affect the young adult (community, peers, family, school, and work). Based on each young person's individual needs, circumstances, and goals, specialists help young adults create a sustainable support network among family, friends, and service providers. Specialists collaborate with staff at other programs/agencies to ensure the young adults are able to establish the supports necessary to achieve their goals.

Recommended Intensity:

Generally at least one weekly hour-long face-to-face session plus other calls/text throughout the week as needed; crisis prevention and intervention available 24 hours a day/7 days a week

Recommended Duration:

6 to 12 months, with an average participation of 7 to 9 months

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


LifeSet includes a homework component:

LifeSet specialists will assign a variety of tasks to youth as homework, depending on the young person's goal and the interventions that the specialists has selected. For example, a young person who is transitioning out of congregate care and into an independent living setting may be assigned to complete rental applications, work on a budget, and generate a list of potential housing options. For youth entering a new educational setting, homework assignments may include identifying their academic advisor, developing a list of questions for that person, and then practicing via role play how to engage in the conversation.


LifeSet has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

The most important resource necessary to successfully deliver this program is high quality and well-trained staff. With a low caseload of 8 to 10 young people per specialist, as well as a high level of supervision and clinical consultation (4 to 5 specialists per clinical supervisor; 7 to 8 teams per clinical consultant), personnel are the key to achieving positive outcomes for young people. Since LifeSet is a community-based program, needs for office/meeting space are minimal and can be met in a variety of ways. Specialists at Youth Villages document their work with young people in an electronic medical record system that captures most of the data necessary to monitor program performance and model fidelity; although systems may vary, a core set of data elements, as well as strong processes to monitor program implementation is a key resource requirement for the program.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Qualifications for LifeSet positions are as follows:

  • Specialist – master's degree in social science field preferred, bachelor's accepted with experience
  • Clinical supervisor – master's degree in social science field preferred, bachelor's accepted with experience; experience in training and providing LifeSet services required
  • Clinical consultant – master's degree and licensure (or working toward finalization of licensure requirements) required, as well as extensive experience providing LifeSet services (Please note that partners may use Youth Villages staff for this function until they have trained clinical consultants in place)

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training is provided onsite of the LifeSet specialist and clinical supervisors and includes access to the on-line clinical intervention portal.

Number of days/hours:

The initial training provided to partners occurs over two weeks. The first week is dedicated to LifeSet 4-day comprehensive clinical training. The second week begins with a one-day group supervision training that is delivered to the supervisors only. The remainder of week two consists of training for both the supervisor and staff on utilizing various evidence-based practices that are commonly employed throughout treatment and in essential on-the-job training activities. Beyond the initial 2 weeks of training, specialists receive quarterly booster trainings provided by a Youth Villages clinical consultant.

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

The program representative did not provide information about pre-implementation materials.

Formal Support for Implementation

The program representative did not provide information about formal support for implementation of LifeSet.

Fidelity Measures

The program representative did not provide information about fidelity measures of LifeSet.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

The program representative did not provide information about implementation guides or manuals for LifeSet.

Implementation Cost

The program representative did not provide information regarding studies of the costs of implementing LifeSet.

Research on How to Implement the Program

The program representative did not provide information about research conducted on how to implement LifeSet.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Courtney, M. E., Valentine, E. J., & Skemer, M. (2019). Experimental evaluation of transitional living services for system-involved youth: Implications for policy and practice. Children and Youth Services Review, 96, 396–408.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 1,322


  • Age — 18–24 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 51% White, 37% Black, 6% Hispanic, and 6% Other
  • Gender — 52% Male and 48% Female
  • Status — Participants were youth who had been in the custody of the state children's services agency for at least one year (not necessarily continuously) after age 14 or for at least one day after age 17.

Location/Institution: Tennessee

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of the YVLifeSet [now called LifeSet] program on young adults transitioning to adulthood from the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Participants were randomly allocated to either the YVLifeSet or the control group. Measures utilized include the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales (DASS), administrative data on education, as well as study-developed measures of education, employment and earnings, housing stability and economic well-being, social support, health and safety, and criminal involvement. Results indicate that there were positive impacts of the YVLifeSet program on employment and earnings, housing instability, economic hardship, and health and safety. However, the YVLifeSet program had no impact on measures of education, social support, criminal behavior and justice system involvement. Limitations include concerns about the validity and sufficiency of the study-developed measures to accurately capture the outcome domains, the lack of baseline data on many of the outcome measures, significant differences between survey respondents and nonrespondents, lack of generalizability of study findings to youth transitioning to adulthood in other jurisdictions, and the limited length of postintervention follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: Varied, 3–5 months.

Additional References

Manno, M., Jacobs, E., Alson, J., & Skemer, M. (2014). Moving into adulthood: Implementation findings from the Youth Villages Transitional Living evaluation. MDRC.

Valentine, E. J., Skemer, M., & Courtney, M. E. (2015). Becoming adults: One-year impact findings from the Youth Villages Transitional Living evaluation. MDRC.

Contact Information

Katja Russell
Title: Managing Director
Agency/Affiliation: Strategic Partnerships
Phone: (901) 251-4949
Fax: (901) 251-5003

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: September 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: January 2019

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2016