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Youth Villages Transitional Living program for teens part of national trial

October 5, 2010

Antoine in Massachusetts works with Transitional Living specialist Jackie Coleman on learning to live successfully as an independent adult.

Youth Villages’ transitional living program is part of a national clinical trial to measure its effectiveness.

The study will evaluate the difference between the TL program and usual services available in the community. Participants will be interviewed periodically to track their progress.

The study will involve about 1,600 young people who will be randomly assigned to TL or other community resources during the next two years. TL services are available for young people 17-22 who are aging out of state custody and have little or no support. TL specialists help young people secure housing; pursue educational and employment goals; access health and mental health services; learn such independent living skills as budgeting, cooking, cleaning and shopping; and create and maintain healthy relationships with family and others.

“To my knowledge, there are very few evidence-based programs for this population,” said Sarah Hurley, director of research at Youth Villages. “We hope the evidence produced by this study will help us convince states and others to increase resources to meet the needs of young people entering this critical transition phase.”

MDRC conducts large-scale evaluations of policies and programs to provide objective, unbiased evidence. MDRC research often helps shape legislation, program design and operational practices across the country.

Since Oct. 1, young people who have been in custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services for at least one year after their 14th birthday or at least one day after their 17th birthday, are at least 18 and meet TL requirements for inclusion in the program will enter a lottery process for selection to TL or usual services.

Participation in the study is voluntary, but youth must consent to participate in the study to get in the TL program. All youth eligible for the study receive an assessment of their independent living needs and develop a housing plan to assist them in making the transition out of state custody.

Melanie Manns is Youth Villages’ research coordinator for the study.

“This study will provide independent results and data compiled by an organization with nearly four decades of experience in evaluating social policies and programs,” Manns said. “The focus on young people in foster care gives them a voice, a chance to be a part of something that will potentially change the structure of support and assistance for many youth and young adults in the future.”

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