The Independent Living – Employment Services program (IL-ES) is targeted at youth in foster care who are at least sixteen years old. IL-ES provides encouragement and individualized employment assistance tailored to the youths’ needs and goals. The primary goal is to improve employment rates and stability. A secondary goal is to ensure that youth will have the resources they need to avoid future use of public assistance. Another major component is helping youth to develop life skills. An experimental study found no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control group in employment or other key outcomes after two years and no longer-term program impacts were found based on unemployment insurance wage records.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target population: youth in foster care transitioning to adulthood
The primary goal of The Independent Living – Employment Services program (IL-ES) is to improve employment outcomes. A secondary goal is to ensure that youth will have the resources they need to avoid future use of public assistance. Another major component is helping youth to develop life skills. Staff try to build rapport with youth and help them gain confidence in employment interview settings. IL-ES is modeled on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work development assistance and is based on an encouragement model. This encouragement takes the form of an introductory letter and weekly newsletters mailed to the youth. IL-ES provides youth with one-on-one job search counseling and employment preparation through six types of services: 1) an initial visit and pre-assessment; 2) job search preparation; 3) job leads and resources; 4) job search assistance; 5) topical workshops; and 6) retention services. These were provided by means of newsletters, phone calls, home visits, office visits, workshops, and shopping to prepare for interviews. The actual services received vary considerably, based on individual needs and uptake.
EVALUATION OF PROGRAM
Evaluated Population: To beeligible for IL-ES, youth must be 16 years or older and be in foster care, on probation, or in subsidized guardianship. Youth who have aged out of foster care are also eligible. Services are available to youth up to age 21, provided that the youth are engaged with the Independent Living Program (ILP) and are eligible for independent living services. There were 254 participants from Kern County, CA, in the study, of which 42.9 percent were male and the mean age was 16. The sample was 22.4 percent black, 75 percent white, and 45.7 percent Hispanic (participants could identify as more than one race).
Approach: Once the youth were found to be eligible to participate, they were randomly assigned to participate in the IL-ES program (n =136) or to be in the control group (n =118). Youth in the control group received no services.
Data were collected in the areas of perceived preparedness for various tasks associated with independent living, education and employment, economic well-being, housing, delinquency, pregnancy, and documentation and accounts. This included measures of physical and mental health, substance abuse, level of social support, economic hardship, high school graduation, and deviant behavior.
The main sources of data were interviews with the youth, each of whom was asked to participate in an initial interview and two follow-up interviews. Each follow-up interview was to take place approximately one year after the previous interview. The interview questionnaire served as the primary data collection tool. Unemployment Insurance wage data were used to help determine employment outcomes two to four years after the last interview.
Baseline interviews were conducted with 136 youth in the treatment group and 118 youths in the control group. In each of the follow-up interviews (i.e., the one-year and two-year follow-ups), 229 youth (the sample breakdown table is missing in the report) were interviewed. Comparisons of the baseline characteristics of IL-ES and control group youths showed no statistically significant differences.
Results: At the second follow-up interview there were no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups in employment or other key outcomes. No longer-term program impacts were found based on unemployment insurance wage records.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Courtney, M., Zinn, A., Koralek, R., and Bess, R. (2011). Evaluation of the Independent Living – Employment Services Program, Kern County, California: Final Report. OPRE Report # 201113. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
KEYWORDS: Youth (16+), Males and Females (Co-ed), Clinic/Provider-based, Home-based, Counseling/Therapy, Employment/Earnings, Social Skills/Life Skills
Program information last updated on 7/29/2014.