• March 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 2

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National Youth in Transition Database

The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) provides States with funding to assist youth in the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. As a part of this program, the Children's Bureau was required to establish a system to track the services States provide to foster youth and collect information about outcomes that could be used to assess State performance in providing those services. To meet these requirements, the Children's Bureau developed the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) (pronounced "knighted").

Every 6 months (May and November), States report data to NYTD about the services and supports they provide to all foster youth, as well as demographic information. States will submit outcome data for specific cohorts of foster youth rather than for entire population. In the first year, States will conduct a baseline outcome survey of youth on or around their 17th birthday. The States will then collect data on that same cohort of youth on or around both their 19th and 21st birthdays, regardless of whether they are still in the child welfare system or otherwise receiving services. The next cohorts of 17-year-olds will be surveyed every 3 years after the initial cohort. Outcome data will be collected on the following six topics:

  • Financial self-sufficiency
  • Experience with homelessness
  • Educational attainment
  • Positive connections with adults
  • High-risk behavior
  • Access to health insurance

The first submission of services and outcome data to NYTD was in May 2011 for information regarding the period of October 2010 through March 2011. States that do not comply with NYTD reporting requirements may be penalized between one and five percent of their annual CFCIP funding.

This is a novel data collection initiative because, for the first time nationally, States are collecting data directly from a population they serve. It also may be a new experience for many States since they are being asked to conduct survey research, which often is done by universities or other research organizations. To support States with this initiative, the National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology (NRC-CWDT) and the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) are providing technical assistance regarding data collection, reporting, and other related areas. The NRC-CWDT website includes extensive documentation about NYTD issues, such as mapping data elements to AFCARS, incentives and motivators for youth participation in data collection, informed consent, and other survey research and technological issues. The Children's Bureau also established a NYTD community of practice to facilitate communication among States about various aspects of this data collection effort, such as using the outcome data, locating youth, and stakeholder engagement. Resources and event information also are posted on the site.

Both the Children's Bureau and the States have encouraged the participation of current and former foster youth in NYTD planning and implementation, including survey and protocol development. Some States have even reached out to former foster youth to administer the surveys. Additionally, the Children's Bureau plans to work closely with foster youth on the dissemination of the NYTD data. A national workgroup that includes former foster youth is discussing ways the data can be presented in a youth-friendly manner.

The Children's Bureau currently is reviewing the initial data submissions and plans to release an analysis of the data on its website in the summer of 2012. In the future, the Children's Bureau hopes to incorporate the data into its annual Child Welfare Outcomes report.

For more information about NYTD, contact Miguel Vieyra at NYTDinfo@acf.hhs.gov.

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