Policy Factsheet

Independent Living Programs for Young People Leaving the Care System

Reasons for Policy

  • In 2003, there were 523,000 children in public care in the United States.1
  • In the U.S., public (foster) care placement types include homes of family members, homes of nonfamily members, group homes or institutions, pre-adoptive homes, and other placements.1
  • In the U.S., about 20,000 young people leave the public care system each year. A significant number of young people leaving care are disadvantaged and ill-prepared for adult life.1

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Non-profits/Community Organizations
  • State Government

Policy Components

  • Independent living programs containing training and/or support for personal development

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved educational attainment (high school diploma, vocational diploma, higher education)
  • Increased employment
  • Improved health status
  • Stable housing

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • No randomized or quasi-randomized controlled studies met the inclusion criteria for this review. Other studies utilizing other designs had weak methodology and were insufficient to draw conclusions for policy. Further research is needed regarding individual living programs to determine the effectiveness of such programs on health outcomes.1


1 Donkoh C, Underhill K, Montgomery P (2006). Independent living programmes for improving outcomes for young people leaving the care system. Campbell Systematic Reviews 2006, 8, DOI: 10.4073/csr.2006.8.

2 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.