State spending on transitional housing supports for youth “aging out” of foster care can make a big difference in preventing homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse and early childbirth, according to a new study by social work researchers at Case Western Reserve University.
“Regardless of your high risk, if you’re aging out of foster care and you live in a state that spends above average on housing support, you are less likely to be homeless or jailed compared with states that spend less,” said Dana M. Prince, the national study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
The idea was straightforward: Prince and a team of researchers used national survey data from 7,449 teenagers between 18 and 19 years old who were “aging out” out of foster care. Policies about how young people transition out of foster care varies from state to state; 27 states currently have a federally approved extended foster care plan.
The data was then used to determine whether there was a link between how much states spent in federal funds earmarked for transitional housing and negative outcomes associated with aging out, such as homelessness.
For this study, researchers looked at funds from the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, a federal program to help current and former foster care youths become self-sufficient. Colloquially, the funds are known to practitioners as “Chafee dollars.”
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