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September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Services for Improving Youth's Educational, Employment Outcomes

A recent article in the journal Child & Family Social Work highlights the efforts of the National Foster Youth Demonstration Project, a project sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department of Labor to fund workforce development services that specifically targeted youth in foster care and alumni of care. ETA awarded demonstration grants to five youth employment and training programs in Pasadena and Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; New York, NY; and Houston, TX. The five centers were asked to develop model programs for foster youth primarily between the ages of 16 and 21 that would provide a range of educational, employment, and independent living activities.

This project represents a response to the growing concern in the United States that many young people are not developing the skills they need for success in today's economy. A major issue is the need to create feasible postsecondary pathways to good jobs for high school dropouts. For youth who have experienced out-of-home care, the path to job and career success is particularly challenging as they are more likely to have inadequate work skills because of unstable housing, multiple school changes, lack of life skills, limited access to postsecondary education and training, and limited employment experience.

During the 2-year study period, 35 percent of the 1,058 participants obtained employment, 23 percent obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate or high school diploma, and 17 percent enrolled in postsecondary education. In their evaluation, the authors found that that the longer the youth were enrolled in programs, the more education and employment outcomes they achieved. Further, job preparation and income support services were associated significantly with achieving positive education or employment outcome. Results indicated that certain services provided over an extended period of time can improve outcomes for youth placed in foster care.

The article "Effective Services for Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for Children and Alumni of Foster Care Service: Correlates and Educational and Employment Outcomes," by Burt S. Barnow, Amy Buck, Kirk O’Brien, Peter Pecora, Mei Ling Ellis, and Eric Steiner, Child & Family Social Work, 20(2), 2015, is available for purchase at