Topic: Youth Transitioning Into Adulthood Programs

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Youth Transitioning Into Adulthood Programs:

Youth Transitioning into Adulthood Programs are defined by the CEBC as programs that increase the skills, knowledge, and supports of youth who age out of the child welfare system while in out-of-home care and, therefore, have to transition out of the foster care system and live on their own. Transition programs are aimed at increasing independent living and self-sufficiency skills and/or developing formal or informal social connections that can provide guidance and support to youth beyond their time in foster care or receiving services. Independent living and self-sufficiency skills could include employment (including readiness and retention), financial management, healthy meal planning and preparation, securing and maintaining stable housing, and/or other life skills.

Every year in California, more than 4,000 youth age out of foster care. The youth who age out of foster care are more likely to experience difficulty managing the transition from dependent adolescence to independent adulthood. Foster youth face unique challenges for making a successful transition into adulthood in employment, higher education, marriage, and parenthood. A large number of these youth have special needs including mental health issues and disabilities, both learning and physical. Former foster youth face the added burden of a disrupted childhood and possible lack of family support. The transition period from adolescence to adulthood is longer and more complex for today's young adults.

NOTE: Many topic areas on the CEBC may be relevant to youth transitioning into adulthood. In particular, the Educational Interventions for Children and Adolescents in Child Welfare, Teen Pregnancy Services, and Mentoring Programs (Child & Adolescent) may be highly relevant and should be reviewed if interested in programs addressing those particular services.

  • Target population: Transition age youth who may age out of the foster care system, have already aged out of it, or have emancipated from it
  • Services/types that fit: Services including assessment, case planning, case management, counseling or mentoring on issues related to emerging adulthood, development of social connections and support systems, education, financial support, and/or skill building
  • Delivered by: Child welfare caseworkers, trained paraprofessionals, educators, and mental health professionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target the needs of youth aging out of the foster care system or the needs of youth with similar characteristics (e.g., runaway and homeless youth, pregnant or parenting youth, youth with mental health needs or developmental disabilities, etc.) as they enter adulthood as a goal
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines outcomes for youth transitioning into adulthood such as independent living/self-sufficiency skills, family/social connections, employment, higher education, housing, and parenthood

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

One Program with a Scientific Rating of 2 - Supported by Research Evidence:

  • Better Futures
    Youth and young adults in foster care, including youth with disabilities and/or mental health conditions, who are: 1) in their ...

Four Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

  • LifeSet
    Young adults between the ages 17 and 22 who are leaving the foster care, juvenile justice, and/or mental health systems
  • My Life
    Youth and young adults, ages 15-19, in foster care who are able to go into the community with their program ...
  • Self-Determined Career Design Model (SDCDM)
    People with disabilities ages 16 to 21
  • Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model
    Youth and young adults (14-29 years old) with, or at risk of, emotional/behavioral difficulties (EBD) [e.g., severe mental ...

15 Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Youth Transitioning into Adulthood Programs topic area is relevant to child welfare because older foster youth may need assistance obtaining the skills and knowledge required for a successful transition into adulthood. Since the passing of the Chaffee Foster Care Independence Act, some funds have been available to serve this population. However, outcome studies still demonstrate many youth are homeless, pregnant, and unemployed after leaving care. Child Welfare Agencies and the Courts need information on effective youth transitioning services and supports; and need to know how to help youth establish or re-establish strong and enduring ties to one or more nurturing adults.

Roseann Myers
Former CEBC Advisory Committee Member

Topic Expert

Curtis McMillen, PhD, Professor
School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
Chicago, IL