To be able to completely recognize and understand the full policy and programs, knowing how and why they were developed is important. Background information will also be vital to thoroughly grasping their purposes and goals. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, and John Burton Advocates for Youth will be broken down in order to explain the issues they are attempting to resolve. The importance of these issues will also be revealed and described.
Description and History of the Policy
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is a policy aimed to help elongate the age of eligibility for Title IV-E child welfare reimbursement. Originally the age limit was at 18 years old, and because of this policy it was changed to 21 years old for those youth who met the distinct criteria. The main policy changes permits foster care youth, now aged up to 21 years old, to be able to use Title IV-E resources and present other states with financial encouragement to stretch out care to where it is available in certain states. 18 states and the District of Columbia can use federal funds for extending care up to age 21 as of November 2013 (Dion). The policy was also able to involve supervised independent living environments in the reimbursable housing that was provided in the previously. This includes places such as host homes and college dormitories. On October 7, 2008, the act was officially signed into law by President George W. Bush at Congress (GovTrack.us). It was unanimously voted through in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Overall, the policy was designed to show how states intend to expand foster care resources for youth up to the age of 21, and also how they will complete the new requirements affiliated to handling a larger oversight of the health care and educational needs of all foster kids (CITE). Some of these requirements include placing siblings together whenever possible, and notifying relatives within 30 days of a child’s removal from their biological home (CITE). If shown successful, then the impact of the law will result in an increase in the number of kids who are adopted out of the foster care system and will show a lower number of foster kids who are left homeless and without an education.
The first program that has grown from the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, is the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. This program was developed to offer assistance to help current and former foster care youth achieve self-sufficiency. Most youth that exit foster care due to “aging out,” have nowhere to go and have no idea on how to jump start their lives after foster care life. The program’s purpose is to help foster kids who are more likely to stay in foster care until age 18, youth who, after turning 16 years old, have exited foster care for kinship guardianship or adoption, and those who are ages 18-21 and have ‘aged out’ of the foster care system (CITE). In 2002, the Educational and Training Vouchers Program (ETV) for Youths Aging out of Foster Care was introduced to the program (CITE). ETV gives funds to meet the education and training needs of youth aging out of foster care (CITE).
As a result, the program was intended to provide grants to States and Tribes who present a plan to help youth in a diverse and wide assortment of fields developed to support a successful change into adulthood. The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program goes through activities and even other programs that include, but are not limited to, help with schooling, employment, financial management, housing, emotional support and assured connections to caring adults for older youth in foster care (CITE). Mentors (over the age of 55), will assist in engaging youth in community service activities, and demonstrate a classroom-based life skills curriculum, and offers workshops to parents as well (CITE). If successful, foster care kids will gain the realization, self-belief, and expertise needed to keep away from drugs and overcome overwhelming challenges they will face in life.
Based in San Francisco, the John Burton Advocates for Youth program was founded in 2005 by former member of Congress, the California State Assembly and President Pro Tem of the California State, John Burton (CITE). This program works towards improving the quality of life for California’s foster, former foster, and homeless youth (CITE). Majority of foster care children who “age out,” end up living on the streets with nowhere to go and no advantages to get their lives started. This program will ensure that extended foster care stays in tack as shown through policy advocacy and the training of local county administrators and providers (CITE).
John Burton Advocates for Youth attempts to help enhance the quality of housing for current and former foster kids by supplying consistent training and technical aid for foster care housing providers. If proven successful, permanent, affordable housing for former foster youth can be provided, and even with partnerships with nonprofit and for-profit housing, development of community can be started.
Policy and Program Environment
To sufficiently go through both the effectiveness and efficiency of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, the two programs that strive due to this policy will each individually be evaluated on their own effectiveness and efficiency. An in-depth evaluation of the policy can be concluded, by using the comparison of studies of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and John Burton Advocates for Youth. This component of the report will describe and go into detail of different case studies that tested specific characteristics of each program. The results of these studies will help conclude the effectiveness and efficiency of the policy as a whole. It will also provide policymakers with an awareness and perception of how to continue to grow and improve this policy for the future.
Due to the fact that the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program begins to help current and former foster care youth learn about independence and self-sufficiency at such a young age, it is critical to assess the effectiveness of the program, because of its influence it has on young vulnerable children. A study performed by Child Trends, evaluates how the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program has affected the number of older youth entering foster care over the past decade. Older youth being able to achieve permanency was also analyzed over a decade in this study as well. The decade ranged from 2007-2017 (Rosenburg). Child Trends conducted an analysis of the Adoption and Foster Care and Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and also the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) (Rosenburg). The data that was collected from the two database systems was put into an infographic to display the results and findings from Child Trends. Due to using these two reliable databases and compiling the found information into a professional infographic, the comprehensive effectiveness of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program was assembled.
By following and using the databases mentioned above, Child Trends was able to provide a composed set of results that demonstrates the effectiveness of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The data from the study confirmed that the number of older youth entering foster care has decreased from 2007 to 2017 (Rosenburg). Starting in 2007, with 73,263 foster care youth to ending with 49,135 foster care youth in 2017 (Rosenburg). These results showed that the program has been working and improving the foster care system tredmously over the past decade. If more programs like the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program were to be funded, then it can be expected to only decrease the number of older youth in foster care even more than it was in 2017. Now taking a look at the achieved permanency rate of older foster care youth, it has remained at 61% consistently throughout the decade of 2007-2017 (Rosenburg). This means that there is still room for improvement and that policymakers should create programs that are specially aimed to improve this problem. More foster care youth can only benefit from this as seen with the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. Nevertheless, these findings show that the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program has improved the foster care system but also can still use improvements, which will only help grow the effectiveness of the program for the foreseen future.
To continue the evaluation of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, another study conducted by Melissa Litchfield, Sophia I. Gatowski, Ph.D., and Maureen McKissick evaluates how much judges truly know about this program. Research staff from the Permanency Planning for Children Department (PPCD) conducted telephone interviews with 19 out of 23 Model Court Lead Judges (Litchfield). Trained PPCD research staff members organized each interview through telephone that lasted approximately 45 minutes, and asked the judges 15 multi-part questions (Litchfield). One of these 15 multi-part questions was specific to John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The results of this interview were displayed in a pie chart along with statistics to further explain the findings. As a result of using Model Court Lead Judges as the subjects of the study and also using trained research staff members of PPCD, the overall effectiveness of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program was compiled.
By using professionals and trained research staff as stated above, the authors of the study are able to supply a collected series of findings, that displayed the effectiveness of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The results from the study revealed that 10 of 19 judges (53%) surveyed rate themselves as having little to no knowledge of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (Litchfield). Out of the remaining nine judges, eight claimed having “some” knowledge, and only one judge stated having “a great deal of knowledge” (Litchfield). This shows that the knowledge of this program is not great enough in court systems. The knowledge and recognition of this program is needed in court for foster care kids futures, in order for judges to be able to recommend it. For foster care youth to succeed, this program needs to become more well-known to judges. However, these findings reveal that the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program needs to become more aware in the court system in order for its effectiveness to continue to expand and help those who would benefit from joining it.
Looking at the similarities and comparison of the effectiveness of these two studies, the total effectiveness of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 can be appropriately and precisely determined. In both studies, the goals were to see how the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program has affected the foster care system and the court system over time. It can be easily said that the program is proven to positively affect the foster care system by actually decreasing the number of kids in the system, but improvements definitely need to be made in order to help other parts of it. The program is for sure not well-known enough in the court system, which means more improvements can be made there as well. These conclusive studies show the policymakers that the overall policy is indeed helpful and proves its effectiveness since it has decreased the number of children in foster care. The data also provides more feedback on where it needs to be improved in order for it to continue to have its effectiveness grow overtime.
Regarding John Burton Advocates for Youth, Child Trends, alongside the Better Housing Coalition and Children’s Home Society of Virginia, composed a national survey of state independent living coordinators called, Survey on Services and Supports for Young People Transitioning from Foster Care Survey (Fryar). The data was collected in 2016, and has responses from Independent Living Coordinators from 47 of 52 states and territories that were reached out too (Fryar). They reported the assembling and opportunities from services and supports for youth and young adults who have been through foster care, highlighting state trends and examples of innovation in six major service areas: 1. post-secondary education; 2. employment and career development; 3. financial capability; 4. safe, stable, and affordable housing; 5. health and mental health care; and 6. permanent relationships with supportive adults (Fryar). The findings of these surveys were produced as statistics and explained thoroughly by the authors. Due to the use of wide spread and national data collection for the survey, the general effectiveness for the John Burton Advocates for Youth was collected.
Using the wide spread and national data collection for the survey as said above, the effectiveness of the John Burton Advocates for Youth was expressed by Child Trends. The survey discovered that three quarters of states report that most young people leave foster care before the maximum age permitted (Fryar). Also, almost every state claimed that foster care can be extended past age 18, with 40 out of 47 states that replied, reporting that it is available to a few young people up 21 years old (Fryar). Though, in 27 states that extend foster care to 21 years or older, younger people normally exit at 18 years old (Fryar). This was concerning the authors due to the fact that past research has shown that young people who stay in foster care to age 21 are less likely to experience homelessness and have a high chance to be employed and attend college in comparison to those who exit foster care at 18 years old (Fryar). These findings are related to John Burton Advocates for Youth because the program’s objective is to extend the age limit in order to stop foster care youth from becoming homeless to actually have a chance at a successful future. The data showed that the longer the age limit is extended too, the more likely they are to succeed and have a better education. With that being said, the survey showed that John Burton Advocates for Youth objectives are on the right path for effectiveness and will continue to grow as the years go on.
To carry on with the John Burton Advocates for Youth, another study from Child Trends takes data from the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) and the federal fiscal year 2014 data to analyze types of education foster care youth got once they left the system (Jordan). Child Trends also discovered the state that had the largest amount of foster care kids leaving the system and how they are going to improve it (Jordan). Since the data was collected from two reliable databases, the effectiveness of the John Burton Advocates for Youth was shown in the results.
From the data that was compiled and collected from two reliable databases as stated above, the effectiveness of the John Burton Advocates for Youth was able to be revealed by Child Trends. The data revealed that only 8% of young adults in the Midwest who have been in foster care have a postsecondary degree at ages 25 to 26, in comparison to 46 percent of young adults in the general population (Jordan). Also, according to federal fiscal year 2014 data from the AFCARS, Virginia had one of the highest number of percentages of youth exiting foster care due to age (emancipation) in the country (Jordan). This data only confirms that John Burton Advocates for Youth still has the right idea for their objectives when wanted to help foster care youth. However, these findings reaffirms that the John Burton Advocates for Youth has effectiveness and will continue to in the foreseen future.
Taking a look at the comparison of the two case studies, the complete effectiveness of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 can be clearly and specifically determined. Both studies have similar goals in wanting to keep the extended age in the foster care system. The John Burton Advocates for Youth main goal was also to keep the age extended as well. The two case studies confirmed that the program is heading towards the right direction of effectiveness and should continue on the current path. Policymakers should still keep attempting to improve it in every possible way they can even though it is doing great to this day. Therefore, in conclusion, the John Burton Advocates for Youth may be seen as being as effective as it can possibly be, but improvements can still be made and expanded upon.
No different from the effectiveness of the program, being able to identify and analyze the efficiency of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is just as important. The efficiency helps specify if the programs are worth the cost and time based on the availability of services and resources it has. The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program had a fund at about $140 million in 2009 (CITE). Mangement wise, serveral independent programs are looked over by the main state program that situates former foster youth. Usually it is with an independent living coordinator and other program staff. For instance, in California, each county administers its own program with some oversight and support from a statewide program. Other states, like Florida, use contracted service providers to administer their programs. Many jurisdictions have partnered with private organizations to help fund and sometimes administer some aspect of their independent living programs.