A Follow-Up Outcome Evaluation of Independent Living Services for Foster Care Youth

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Dr Miriam Potocky-Tripodi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. William Kurtines

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Nan Van Den Bergh

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr David Cohen

Date of Defense



This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Independent Living (IL) program targeting foster youths to prepare them for effective adulthood. The study employed a pre-post, two-group comparative research design. The IL group was composed of 49 young adults who participated in the IL or SIL (subsidized IL) program prior to their emancipation from foster care (mean age, 20.6 years). The comparison was made up of 18 young adults who experienced foster care but never participated in the IL or SIL programs (mean age, 20.2 years). Data were collected via a mailed survey that included the Daniel Memorial Independent Living Assessment (DMILA) and an additional questionnaire developed by the researcher. The study also examined: 1) why youth in foster care do not participate in IL programs, 2) how participating youth evaluate IL services and what recommendations they make to improve services, and 3) the internal consistency of the DMILA. Results suggest that the DMILA assessment has mediocre reliability. IL program participation is associated with better educational, employment, income, housing, early parenting-prevention, transportation, anger control, criminal-prevention, and self-evaluation outcomes. However, IL participation is not associated with better social support, perceived parenting competence, substance abuse-prevention, sexual risk-prevention outcomes, increased knowledge in money management skills, job seeking and job maintenance skills, interpersonal skills, or lower depression. Results also suggest that the outreach activities of the IL program may be flawed. IL participants reported the IL program was doing best in educational preparation, criminal involvement prevention, and money management preparation and least well in parenting preparation, housing preparation, employment preparation, and substance abuse prevention. To improve services, youths recommended primarily that IL counselors develop closer relationships with youths, that IL training better address organizational skills, and that monthly subsidy be raised and SIL eligibility requirements softened. The study's political context and limitations are also discussed and implications are derived regarding prevention, intervention, outreach, mentorship, empowerment, cross-systems collaboration, and future research.



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