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April 2016Vol. 17, No. 2Youth Qualitative Interview Findings

A brief from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) highlights findings from qualitative interviews with nine participants in the RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Initiative. One of six Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) grantees, RISE focuses on reducing time in long-term foster care and increasing permanency options for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. RISE is administered by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, plus more than 20 community and foster care agencies. PII is a Federal, multisite demonstration project aimed at transforming child welfare policy and practice through increasing evidence-supported interventions.

Interview findings formed part of an initial evaluation of the PII project. Interviewees' comments focused on their opinions of RISE, their experiences in foster care, and ways their lives changed as they received services. They contributed to the project's goal of measuring the short-term outcomes of decreased heterosexism and transphobia, and monitoring participants' understanding of RISE interventions.

Two RISE interventions support and educate LGBTQ children and youth, parents, caregivers, and child welfare professionals: a Care Coordination Team (CCT) and Outreach and Relationship Building services. The nine youth interviewed for this evaluation were participating in a CCT, which consists of the following:

  • The facilitator implements the plan of care, which includes emotional, LGBTQ identity, and legal permanency components.
  • The youth specialist engages and encourages LGBTQ youth with identity development and helps to build a trust-based relationship with them through a positive youth development model.
  • The family finder extends the support system for LGBTQ youth through identifying and locating adults who can support them.
  • The parent partner educates, supports, and strategizes with adults in the lives of LGBTQ youth to minimize rejection and capitalize on ways to support them.

The brief shares key findings from the nine interviews related to their experiences receiving RISE services, such as the following:

  • RISE staff. Youth spoke about feeling comfortable and open with their RISE team, becoming close to them, receiving support and understanding, and feeling like their team really cared about them.
  • Someone who understands. Youth specified that they liked talking to someone who was also LGBTQ and thus knows where they're coming from.
  • Family relationships. Youth brought up instances where RISE helped them connect with their families.
  • LGBTQ identity. Most youth said that participating in RISE helped them realize, define, or be able to express their LGBTQ identity.

The authors conclude that the qualitative interviews, conducted during summer 2015, captured both a positive effect on youth as well as improvement in their natural and formal supports. The evaluation team indicated that their sample of nine interviewees was a nonrepresentative sample of CCT youth participants; therefore, a second set of interviews will be conducted to validate their findings. A final report on formative evaluation outcomes of the RISE initiative will be available from OPRE in 2016.

Access the brief, Findings From the RISE Youth Qualitative Interviews, at (537 KB).