The nonprofit organization Foster Youth in Action, which trains foster youth in leadership and advocacy skills, held an event last Friday to present findings from its study on the effects of its training model.
The study, “The Impact of Advocacy” evaluated the effects of Foster Youth in Action’s training in eight issue scales: identity affiliation, identity search, civic activism, self-efficacy, community support, civic engagement, supports and opportunities and self esteem (only measured in Wave 2).
“I’m excited about the level of unanimity of what people think the impact of this research is,” said Matt Rosen, executive director of Foster Youth in Action.
The study provides a measurable platform to demonstrate the effects of training programs. Rosen said that this is particularly useful for funders.
“We need to think about the role [leadership training] plays developmentally for young people’s skills,” Rosen said.
Researchers collected data from 527 youth in two waves. Both waves found statistically significant changes in all issue areas.
A panel of foster youth chose the issue areas the study examined in an extensive, 18-month process. The study was conducted in six states over a two-year period, starting in late 2012.
Janet Knipe, former executive director of Foster Youth in Action, recruited Dr. Toni Naccarato to help research the project.
“We wanted to know,” Naccarato said, “is there any way to measure if something’s working.”
Youth answered the same 57 questions before and after participating in training with Foster Youth in Action and California Youth Connection. Their answers were compared after both surveys were completed.
The study gathered both qualitative and quantitative data. The researchers reviewed anecdotes given by participants prior to analyzing the survey.
“Once we were able to talk about what our experiences meant, then we were able to understand the results,” said Zefora Ortiz, a panelist at the presentation who was on the review board for the study and is a former foster youth.
About 60 people attended the event at the East Bay Community Foundation and some viewers joined through webinar.