Panel Paper: Housing Options for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 10:05 AM
West End Ballroom D (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Amy Dworsky1, M. Robin Dion2, Jacqueline Kauff2 and Rebecca Kleinman2, (1)University of Chicago, (2)Mathematica Policy Research
For young people who age out of foster care, the transition to adulthood is replete with challenges.  Among the most significant is the need for stable housing.  At age 18, or in some states, age 21, these young people are expected to find and maintain a safe and affordable place to live with little to no support from either their families or the government (Brown and Wilderson 2010).  Because few have the skills, support, or economic resources necessary to maintain themselves in an independent living situation, former foster youth are known to be at high risk for homelessness and unstable housing (Dworsky and Courtney 2010).

This presentation will focus on a study of housing options for young people aging out of foster care, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A joint effort of Mathematica Policy Research and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the study represents a first step toward understanding what housing strategies work best for former foster youth. It includes a review of the literature and inventory of housing strategies for foster youth transitioning to adulthood, a survey of how local child welfare and public housing agencies are using a special form of housing vouchers for these youth, and in-depth case studies of communities providing supportive housing for foster youth.

The presentation will begin with a summary of what we know about this population, the challenges they face during the transition to adulthood, and an overview of federal policies and programs aimed at helping these young people address their housing needs.  It will introduce a typology that emerged from profiling more than 60 state and local housing programs.  Several innovative approaches will be highlighted to illustrate the typology.

Results will be presented from a survey of how communities are using the Family Unification Program (FUP) to provide former foster youth with housing vouchers and supportive services for 18 months.  Data were collected from a web-based survey of Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) that operate a FUP and, in the case of PHAs that were using FUP for youth, their partner Public Child Welfare Agencies (PCWAs). Particular attention will be given to the collaboration between PHAs and PCWAs in administering FUP.   We will provide context for understanding the survey results from site visits to four communities providing FUP to youth.

Based on the findings, the presentation will include a discussion of policy and research recommendations for learning what housing options work best for foster youth transitioning to adulthood.

Full Paper: