The Impact of Extended Foster Care: Preliminary Findings of the CalYOUTH Study

Researchers and child welfare advocates will gather in downtown Los Angeles on May 10 to explore the preliminary findings of the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH).

CalYOUTH is a five-year research project looking at the impact of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act, a California law known as AB 12 that extended foster care to age 21 and took effect in 2012. The study examines outcomes during the transition to adulthood for foster youth and will conclude in 2017.

The study is led by esteemed researcher Mark Courtney, whose Midwest Evaluation has become the definitive tome on adult outcomes for youth who have experienced foster care, and is conducted in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services and the County Welfare Directors Association of California.

According to Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago where Courtney is based, CalYOUTH includes collection and analysis of information from three sources: 1) 727 transition-age youth, 2) 235 child welfare workers and 3) government program data.

In addition to outcomes for youth, the study also examines the implementation of AB 12 and the role of foundations and other stakeholders in policy implementation.

A preliminary findings report released last summer said that, based on 2010-2013 data, “Early evidence from California suggests that youth approaching the age of majority in care are in fact more likely to remain in care past their 18th birthday when child welfare policy makes that option readily available to them. However, the exits that are most affected by this are legal emancipation (i.e., becoming legally independent prior to age 18), running away from care, or experiencing other generally undesirable exits that do not constitute legal permanency. These outcomes have all become less likely in the era of extended foster care.”

CalYOUTH preliminary findings
Legal Permanency Status at Age 18 by Year, 2010-2013.

The May 10 event at the Japanese American National Museum will include discussions about the latest CalYOUTH study findings.

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Christie Renick, Southwest Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Christie Renick, Southwest Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 119 Articles
Tucson-based southwest editor and vice president of Fostering Media Connections. Reach her at or follow @christiejrenick.