Friday, July 27, 2007

Laying the groundwork for a statewide independent living survey

SAMPLE: Young people ages 17-23*, residing in licensed public / private foster and group home facilities in 10 counties across the state.

*We will be focusing on cases in AFCARS data... which unfortunately does not include kinship care placements. And, logistics dictate that the survey of youth who have already aged out of care will be done through a random sample of ETV recipients, for this initial study.

COLLABORATION: This survey will be most useful if it is a collaborative effort including the statewide Youth Advisory Board, statewide public and private foster care agencies, statewide independent living association and the state chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America.

Each group has insights to offer in terms of: questions to ask, method of asking questions, logistics of surveying, usability of information – reporting out and using results.

PREPARATION:
1.) Compile a list of independent living coordinators in each county and find out how many counties have after-care coordinators.

2.) Schedule a conference call with organizations listed above to invite them to partner on this project.

3.) After identifying the independent living experts in each county, they should be invited to participate in a conference call as well.

BACKGROUND:
An examination of the current county level of funding for independent living services divided by the number of youth in care in each county has revealed that the money is indeed being dispersed fairly and equitably to each county. The discrepancy lies in how this money is being spent to help young people who are public wards of the state.

Independent living services differ greatly by county.
Some young people have reported receiving a lot of guidance and support, while others report receiving none.

PROPOSED TIMELINE:
1.) OCT - DEC 2007 Identify independent living specialists in each county.

2.) JAN - MARCH 2008Analyze type of independent living services provided, annual budget, amount of staff, number of youth served, barriers/challenges to providing services.

3.) APRIL - MAY 2008 Random sample of foster home and group home providers, knowledge of services available and barriers/challenges to accessing services.

4.) JUNE - AUG 2008Youth questionnaire: types and amounts of IL services provided, perceived usefulness, knowledge of available services, barriers/challenges to receiving assistance and support.

I think the best part of this proposed research project is the fourth step: eliciting feedback from young people in and from foster care. We are the "consumers" of the child welfare system -- and professionals can learn much from our insights and experiences!

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