Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 287–308 | Cite as

Transitional Youth Services: Practice Implications from a Systematic Review

  • Toni Naccarato
  • Emily DeLorenzo


Independent living programs have emerged as the primary intervention to address the needs of foster youth transitioning out of care. Prior reviews of independent living programs have focused on implications for research and policy, but not on direct practice. In order to create effective independent living programs, direct service workers must be provided with concrete practice guidelines for providing effective independent living services. This article summarizes 19 studies on independent living and provides evidence-based implications for each in an effort to begin to fill the gap between research, policy and practice.


Independent living services Life skills Older foster youth Transitional living Aging out of foster care 


  1. Children’s Defense Fund. (1999, December). Foster care independence act becomes a law (PL 106–169). Retrieved on 12/18/97
  2. Benedict, M. I., Zuravin, S. J., & Stallings, R. Y. (1996). Adult functioning of children who lived in kin versus nonrelative family foster homes. Child Welfare, 75, 529–549.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Biehal, N., Clayden, J., Stein, M., & Wade, J. (1994). Leaving care in England: A research perspective. Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 231–254. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90008-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blome, W. W. (1997). What happens to foster kids: Educational experiences of a random sample of foster care youth and a matched group of non-foster care youth. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 14(1), 41–53. doi: 10.1023/A:1024592813809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Collins, M. E. (2001). Transition to adulthood for vulnerable youths: A review of research and implications for policy. The Social Service Review, 75(2), 271–291. doi: 10.1086/322209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cook, R. (1994). Are we helping foster care youth prepare for their future? Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 213–229. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90007-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Courtney, M. E., & Barth, R. P. (1996). Pathways of older adolescents out of foster care: Implications for independent living services. Social Work, 41(1), 75–83.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Courtney, M. E., Dworsky, A., Terao, S., Cost, N., Cusick, G. R., Keler, T., et al. (2005). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Chapin Hall Center for Children.Google Scholar
  9. Courtney, M. E., & Piliavin, I. (1998). Foster youth transitions to adulthood outcomes 12 to 18 months after leaving care. Madison: Wisconsin School of Social Work and Institute for Research on Poverty.Google Scholar
  10. Courtney, M. E., Piliavin, I., Grogan-Kaylor, A., & Nesmith, A. (2001). Foster youth transitions to adulthood: A longitudinal view of youth leaving care. Child Welfare, 6, 685–717.Google Scholar
  11. Courtney, M. E., Terao, S., & Bost, N. (2004). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Conditions of youth preparing to leave state care in Illinois. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Center for Children.Google Scholar
  12. English, D. J., Kouidou-Giles, S. K., & Plocke, M. (1994). Readiness for independence: A study of youth in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 147–158. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90002-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Georgiades, S. (2005). A multi-outcome evaluation of an independent living program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 22(5), 417–439. doi: 10.1007/s10560-005-0020-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hardin, M. (1988). New legal options to prepare adolescents for independent living. In E. V. Mech (Ed.), Independent-living services for at-risk adolescents (pp. 33–50). Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.Google Scholar
  15. Iglehart, A. P. (1994). Adolescents in foster care: Predicting readiness for independent living. Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 159–169. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90003-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kerman, B., Wildfire, J., & Barth, R. P. (2002). Outcomes for young adults who experienced foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 24(5), 319–344. doi: 10.1016/S0190-7409(02)00180-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lemon, K., Hines, A. M., & Merdinger, J. (2004). From foster care to young adulthood: The role of independent living programs in supporting successful transitions. Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 251–270. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2004.09.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lindsey, E. W., & Ahmed, F. U. (1999). The North Carolina independent living program: A comparison of outcomes for participants and nonparticipants. Children and Youth Services Review, 21(5), 389–412. doi: 10.1016/S0190-7409(99)00028-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mallon, G. P. (1998). After care, then where? Outcomes of an independent living program. Child Welfare, 77(1), 61–78.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. McMillen, J. C., & Tucker, J. (1999). The status of older adolescents at exit from out-of-home care. Child Welfare, 78(3), 339–359.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Mech, E. V., Dobson, C. L., & Hulseman, F. S. (1994). Life-skills knowledge: A survey of foster adolescents in three placement settings. Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 181–200. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90005-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Montgomery, P., Donkoh, C., & Underhill, K. (2006). Independent living programs for young people leaving the care system: The state of the evidence. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1435–1448. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.03.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Naccarato, T. (2005). Foster care youth and the role of the independent living skills program on the propensity for educational human capital accumulation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, U.C. Berkeley.Google Scholar
  24. Naccarato, T., & DeLorenzo, E. (in press). Independent living assessments of foster youth: A comprehensive review. Journal of Public Child Welfare.Google Scholar
  25. Pecora, P. J., Kessler, R. C., O’Brien, K., White, C. R., Williams, J., Hiripi, E., et al. (2006). Educational and employment outcomes of adults formerly placed in foster care: Results from the northwest foster care alumni study. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1459–1481. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2006.04.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reilly, T. (2003). Transition from care: Status and outcomes of youth who age out of foster care. Child Welfare, 82(6), 727–746.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Scannapieco, M., Schagrin, J., & Scannapieco, T. (1995). Independent living programs: Do they make a difference? Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12(5), 381–389. doi: 10.1007/BF01876737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2006). AFCARS Report––Preliminary Estimates for FY 2005. Retrieved 12/18/07 from
  29. Waldinger, G., & Furman, W. M. (1994). Two models of preparing youths for emancipation. Children and Youth Services Review, 16(3/4), 201–212. doi: 10.1016/0190-7409(94)90006-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Westat, Inc. (1991). A national evaluation of title IV-E foster care independent living programs for youth (Phase 2 Final Report, Vol. 2).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University at Albany School of Social WelfareAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations