Study Overview


The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 amended Title IV-E to extend the age of Title IV-E eligibility from 18 to 21 for foster care youth. Under provisions of the law, states now have the option to extend care, but are not required to do so. A number of states have adopted legislation to extend care and others are considering doing so. California enacted the California Fostering Connections to Success Act in 2010 and began extending care on January 1, 2012. With the largest state foster care population in the U.S., it is arguably the most important early adopter of the new policy.

Research on the extension of foster care in California began with early implementation studies documenting the history of the legislation and the planning process for implementing California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act. Following the early implementation studies, the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH) was initiated in 2012.


CalYOUTH is an evaluation of the impact of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act on outcomes during the transition to adulthood for foster youth. CalYOUTH includes collection and analysis of information from three sources: 1) transition-age youth, 2) child welfare workers, and 3) government program data. The study, led by Mark Courtney and conducted in collaboration with the California Department of Social Services and California County Welfare Directors Association, is being carried out over a 5-year period from 2012-2017.

The overall study addresses three primary research questions:

  1. Does extending foster care past age 18 influence youths’ outcomes during the transition to adulthood (e.g., education, employment, health, housing, parenting, and general well-being)?
  2. What factors influence the types of support youth receive during the transition to adulthood in the context of extended foster care?
  3. How do living arrangements and other services that result from extended foster care influence the relationship between extending care and youth outcomes?
To answer these questions, CalYOUTH is following youth (N = 727) ages 17 through 21 using in-person interviews. In addition, CalYOUTH conducted an on-line survey of 235 California child welfare workers to obtain their perceptions of key characteristics of the service delivery context of extended foster care. Finally, CalYOUTH completed a qualitative study of youths’ living arrangements including observations of multiple living settings and open-ended interviews with young adults and staff and caregivers in these settings.