What are the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative's sites?
Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.
Who is the target population?
The target population is young adults that have been in foster care between the ages of 14 to age 24 who are about to leave, or already have left the foster care system.
What does the Jim Casey Initiative do?
As a national foundation, the Jim Casey Initiative's mission is to bring together the people, systems and resources necessary to assist young people leaving foster care make successful transitions to adulthood. The Jim Casey Initiative achieves its mission through three strategies: providing technical assistance, advocating for improved policies and practices, and making grants. These strategies are designed to support jurisdictions; and to support and collaborate with national organizations that are working to improve outcomes and opportunities for young people leaving foster care.
How does the Jim Casey Initiative's Theory of Change work?
The Jim Casey Initiative's vision is for all young people leaving foster care to make a successful transition to adulthood. The Jim Casey Initiative is measuring success by improved outcomes in education; employment; housing; physical and mental health; and personal and community engagement.
In order to improve these outcomes, a community needs to have certain conditions in place:
- Young people are decision makers and advocates for themselves and others.
- Partners in public and private systems provide the necessary resources and support.
- Stakeholders use data to drive decision making, communications, and the documentation of results.
- Public will is galvanized by the need to improve outcomes, and policy is focused on the reforms necessary to improve outcomes.
- Young people have access to an array of opportunities that support them.
Can a community implement the Opportunity PassportTM only?
No. The Opportunity PassportTM is one component of a set of strategies and we are not supporting its implementation separately. For more information on Individual Development Account (IDA) programs, see Juma Ventures (www.jumaventures.org), the Center for Enterprise Development (www.cfed.org) or your local United Way agency.
What is the Fostering Connections Act and why is it important?
The Fostering Connections Act is the most significant federal reforms to child welfare in over 10 years. Passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law on October 7, 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) made critically important changes to improve the lives of children, youth, and families affected by the nation's child welfare system. The new law aims to promote permanency and improved outcomes for children in foster care through policy changes in six key areas: 1) support for kinship care and family connections, 2) support for older youth, 3) coordinated health services, 4) improved educational stability and opportunities, 5) incentives and assistance for adoption, and 6) direct access to federal resources for Indian Tribes. The new law also increases federal reimbursement (up to 75 percent) and expands the allowable costs for Title IV-E training. For more information, visit: www.fosteringconnections.org/
What is NYTD and NYTD Plus?
The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), required by the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, will track the services and outcomes of youth transitioning from foster care. NYTD requires state child welfare agencies to collect outcome data via a survey of all youth that are in foster care around their 17th birthday, then survey a cohort of those young people again at ages 19 and 21. The state must also collect data on all independent living services provided to young people, such as mentoring, academic support, career preparation, and health education.
Although NYTD outcomes measures will provide much needed information about young people aging out of foster care, they are fairly limited in terms of breadth and depth. Of particular concern is the lack of attention paid to relationships with family members and other supportive adults. NYTD Plus was created as an enhanced survey instrument that states can use not only to meet the federal requirements, but also to collect additional information about the experiences of young people across a variety of domains that will help them improve the services and supports they currently provide. For more information, visit: http://www.jimcaseyyouth.org/docs/nytd_summary.pdf or http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/systems/nytd/about_nytd.htm
What is the Chafee Act?
In November of 1999, The Foster Care Independence Act (also named the Chafee Act after the late John H. Chafee, longtime supporter of foster care issues) passed congress. The Act was signed into law by President Clinton in December of the same year. The main thrust of the Foster Care Independence Act is to expand the provisions for Independent Living Programs by doubling the allotment for these programs as provided for under Title IV-E. The federal allotment to states for Independent Living Programs (now called Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs) is doubled from $70 million to $140 million, with the states matching 20%. Another important aspect of the Act is that it allows for more flexibility in terms of providing independence oriented services. The Chafee act also gives states the option to extend Medicaid to youth until the age of 21, and strengthens the focus on accountability of states by allocating 1.5% of the total allotment (or $2.1 million) for the development and implementation of a national evaluation and provision of technical assistance to states in assisting youth. For more information, visit: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/state_tribal/jh_chafee_sum.htm
How can our organization partner with the Initiative?
Although we do not accept unsolicited grants, the Initiative is interested in partnering with states through groups that have a strong relations with the child welfare system, community based organizations, and co-investors.
When did the Initiative begin?
The Jim Casey Initiative was begun on May 1, 2001. After a planning process, it launched operations in fall 2001.
How is the Jim Casey Initiative measuring its work?
The Jim Casey Initiative has designed five data collection tools, which are available to all sites and their self-evaluation teams. Teams are skilled in using these tools, and partners are familiar with how they are implemented and the ways in which the resulting data can influence decision making. These tools include the Environmental Scan, the Core Strategies Rubric, the Policy Matrix, the Opportunity PassportTM Participant Survey (OPPS), and Management Information System for Individual Development Accounts (MISIDA). Self-evaluation teams also develop other sources of information to address site-specific concerns.
Why is this Initiative needed?
Data indicates an increase in the number of young people who are transitioning from foster care with very poor outcomes. Existing supports/services for them do not seem to be improving their outcomes. For example, young people transitioning from foster care suffer from significantly higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, school drop-out, unemployment, unwanted pregnancy, and lack of access to health care. Click here for more statistics on this population. The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative was created to combat the bleak outcomes described above and to ensure that young people transitioning from foster care have access to the supports and services they need to succeed.
Why is youth engagement so important?
The evidence all points in this direction: there's more success for young people and the community if youth and young people have a voice in decisions that affect their own lives. Communities and state systems are helping young adults develop the skills they need to be able to speak for themselves and to advocate for themselves and others. Research from the University of Wisconsin, among other schools, shows that involving young people in their own transitions improves their sense of mastery, health, and compassion, and enhances the perception by adults of young people's competence. Our early findings have shown that young adults actively involved in youth leadership boards are more likely to save at higher rates because of the support and encouragement of their peers.
Does the Jim Casey Initiative provide direct services to young people?No. The Jim Casey Initiative provides technical assistance, advocacy resources, and grants to sites across the country.
Is the Jim Casey Initiative looking for change in the child welfare system?
Yes. The Jim Casey Initiative seeks improvement in child welfare policies and practices, which would include establishing lifelong connections for young adults; determining funding priorities; developing multi-collaborations across state agencies and with community partners; and creating connections to leverage resources.
Are there other resources that are available in states where the Jim Casey Initiative is not working?
Yes. Many organizations have also identified the need to help youth transitioning from foster care. Here are a few websites that are helpful:
- The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development
- Fostering Connections Resource Center
- Child Trends
- Finance Project
- Policy for Results
- Center for the Study of Social Policy
- National Foster Care Month
- National Foster Care Coalition
- Orphan Foundation of America
- Chapin Hall Center for Children
- Foster Care Alumni of America
- Child Welfare League of America
- National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning
- National Governor’s Association (NGA)
American Public Human Services Association (APHSA)
How does the Jim Casey Initiative provide technical assistance to sites?
The Jim Casey Initiative provides technical assistance to sites as they work to effectively implement the site-level strategies. The Initiative provides access to the ideas, people, skills, effective examples and learning opportunities sites need to expand opportunities for young people. Sites receive customized technical assistance based on their needs and available resources. The Initiative also brings together the ten sites for convenings, workshops and trainings that are specifically focused on improving implementation of the site-level strategies. And because much of the expertise being developed resides in the sites, the Initiative facilitates ongoing peer-to-peer learning through listservs, conference calls, and peer matches. Evidence-based and promising practices are gleaned from these technical assistance activities and shared among the sites and with the broader field.
What can states do to support young people transitioning from foster care?
- Implement the provisions of the Fostering Connections Act
- Commit to a goal of making sure every child leaving foster care is discharged to a permanent, enduring family relationship
- Extend the availability of foster care and legal advocacy to young people 18-21
- Waive tuition at public colleges and universities
- Require child welfare agency staff to receive training in racial equity
- Make sure young people receive all needed documents for personal identification
- Support an Individual Development Account that matches savings for young people transitioning from foster care to purchase the approved assets of the Opportunity Passport™
- Ensure that young adults are actively engaged in decisions affecting their case deposition, and that youth engagement permeates the policy process
Guarantee visitation rights for the siblings of youth in care
What can supportive adults do to assist young people transitioning from foster care?
- Hire young adults as full-time or part-time employees
- Provide apprenticeships, entrepreneurial classes, internships or any other career preparation
- Develop tutoring and college access opportunities
- Offer housing options, such as waiving deposits, co-signing requirements, and assisting with rental agreements
- Provide or make available dental and medical care
- Support match funding for the IDA of component of the Opportunity Passport™
- Become a foster parent, provide an adoptive home, or become a caring adult that can be supportive
- Provide a home for a students in college during the holidays, college breaks and special occasions
- Encourage a faith-based organization to provide opportunities and supports for youth leaving care
Offer advice on pre-purchase inspection or assist with the purchase, repair or maintenance of cars or vehicles
What organizations do you work with nationally?
The JIm Casey Initiative's strategy and work nationally are focused on improved policy and practice either federally or within the states with several organizations. Please check our knowledge center for more information.
Do you have any job openings?
No. We currently do not have any job openings.