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February 2004Vol. 5, No. 1Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment

Preliminary results from a national study of alumni of Casey Family Programs foster care services indicate many alumni are graduating high school (86 percent, including those obtaining a GED) and obtaining employment (88 percent). Assessing the Effects of Foster Care: Early Results from the Casey National Alumni Study reports data from life experiences, educational achievements, and current functioning of 1,087 Casey Family Programs foster care alumni served between 1966 and 1998. The study sought information on how these youth are faring as adults, whether they differ from other adults with regard to functioning status, and what key factors or program components are linked with higher functioning.

High school graduation and employment rates were positive despite the fact that youth experienced many placement changes (the rate of which decreased when they were placed with Casey). Characteristics that, working together, were found to predict the level of success of an alumnus at the time of interview include:

  • Life skills preparation
  • Completing a high school diploma or GED before leaving care
  • Scholarships for college or job training
  • Male gender
  • Participation in clubs and organizations for youth while in foster care
  • Less positive parenting by the last foster mother (perhaps because this lack of support helped motivate the youth to prepare more vigorously for emancipation)
  • Not being homeless within a year of leaving care
  • Minimized academic problems (i.e., youth who received more educational tutoring were less likely to be successful)
  • Minimized use of alcohol or drugs (i.e., alumni who required alcohol or other substance abuse treatment while in care were less likely to be in the highly successful group)

Assessing the Effects of Foster Care: Early Results from the Casey National Alumni Study is a report of the Foster Care Alumni Studies project, a collaboration of Casey Family Programs, Harvard University, University of Michigan, State of Washington Office of Children's Administration Research, University of Washington, and State of Oregon Services to Children and Families. The report is available on the Casey Family Programs website at Future reports from this study will focus on identifying which youth are most at risk for poor outcomes and for which groups of youth particular services are more effective.

Related Items

For more on the needs of foster youth, see "White House Task Force Report Targets Foster Youth," "Funds for Transition from Foster Care to Independence," and "Foster Youth Help Develop Curriculum and Provide Training for Child Welfare Workers" in this issue.

Also see the following articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Supporting Successful Transitions for Youth" (November 2003)
  • "Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood" (May 2003)