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Highlights

To improve outcomes for youth leaving foster care, Congress passed the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 (FCIA), which increased the allocation of federal funds for independent living programs from $70 million to $140 million. This report reviews (1) how states' funding allocations changed to serve youth after FCIA, (2) the extent to which states have expanded services and age groups of foster youth served since the passage of FCIA and what challenges remain, (3) the extent to which states have used other federal and state programs to coordinate the delivery of services to foster youth, and (4) how the states and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have fulfilled the program accountability provisions of the law and assessed the effectiveness of independent living services.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Health and Human Services 1. To improve access to the array of services available to youth transitioning out of foster care and assist states in leveraging available resources, HHS should make information available to states and local areas about other federal programs that may assist youth in their transition to self-sufficiency and provide guidance on how to access services under these programs.
Closed - Implemented
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a member of the Federal Partnership that developed the Shared Youth Vision Partnership "to serve as a catalyst at the national, state, and local levels to strengthen coordination, communication, and collaboration among youth-serving agencies to support the neediest youth and their healthy transition to successful adult roles and responsibilities." Youth in or aging out of foster care are included in the definition of the neediest youth that the partnership is committed to serving. The partnership includes 9 federal agencies (DOD, Education, HHS, HUD, Justice, Labor, SSA, DOT, and the Corporation for National and Community Service); and 30 states have formally established Youth Vision Teams that mirror the federal partnership. Key milestones that the initiative has accomplished: formation of the federal partnership; federal sponsorship of several major communication and technical assistance forums to promote the Shared Youth Vision concepts and provide hands-on planning support for federal and state partnerships; awarding planning grants to 16 states and utilizing the experiences from the pilot states to expand the collaborative approach to 12 additional states for ongoing peer-to-peer information exchange; holding Community of Practice state conference calls; and implementing of the "Solutions Desk" (sponsored by ACF), which directly links Shared Youth Vision state-level partnerships with their Federal counterparts.
Department of Health and Human Services 2. To improve HHS's ability to monitor implementation of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, HHS should develop a standard reporting format for state plans and progress reports and implement a uniform process regional offices can use to assess states' progress in meeting the needs of youth in foster care and those recently emancipated from care.
Closed - Implemented
In 2007, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) reported that its Children's Bureau had developed a comprehensive checklist for all programs in the Annual Program and Services Report (APSR), and that ACF requested additional information from the states to help ACF better track their expenditure patterns and compliance with statutes. The embellished checklist is intended to ensure that states submit required information and that regional staff document receipt and acceptability of that information prior to approving APSR.

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