February 18, 2002

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services


Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities 
     Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Susan N. Dreyfus


Multistate Evaluation for Youth Exiting the Out-of-Home Care System

The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is participating in a multistate evaluation of youth exiting out-of-home care (OOHC). This memo provides background information on the evaluation and how agencies with youth selected to participate in the evaluation will be affected.

The Chapin Hall Center for Children in Chicago is conducting the evaluation on the experience of youth after they exit out-of-home care. The evaluation will be conducted in the States of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. The principal investigator for the project is Dr. Mark Courtney, who also conducted the study that resulted in the June 2000 DCFS report on Independent Living for Children in Out-of-Home Care and helped in the development of the federal John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999.

The overall purpose of the evaluation project is to gather information about services provided to youth while in out-of-home care and the adult self-sufficiency outcomes achieved by the youth after they exit care. This collaborative effort includes public child welfare agencies from the three states participating on the Evaluation Steering Committee and the ability to compare outcomes for youth on a regional basis. Chapin Hall's Evaluation Team will carry out the evaluation activities under contract with DCFS. The project will produce a final report on evaluation activities and provide guidance to state efforts to comply with the reporting provisions and overall purpose of the Chafee Act.

The evaluation will examine the outcomes experienced by foster youth as they transition to adulthood directly from the OOHC system. The evaluation will be based on data collected from the youths themselves through survey contacts and from their case managers. The data will pertain to the characteristics of the youths, their backgrounds prior to entering out-of-home care and their experiences while in care, including services received. Additional interviews with the youths will take place at about the time of their 19th and 21st birthdays to collect information about their degree of self-sufficiency as adults.

To launch the first wave of data collection in Wisconsin, approximately 270 youth (aged 17) statewide who are currently in OOHC will be randomly selected from the HSRS and WiSACWIS systems. Samples will be drawn from both the child protective service (CHIPS) and juvenile justice (JIPS/Delinquent) populations to allow separate analysis of both populations. Each local agency from which youth are selected will be notified about the selection and asked to seek the cooperation of the youth, the current OOHC caregiver and caseworker for participation in the evaluation. The local agency will also be provided with a detailed explanation of the evaluation process. Caseworkers will receive a survey about the selected youth from Chapin Hall with the first round of survey contacts with the youth beginning shortly thereafter. Local agency staff will be able to report the necessary information into a secure database where confidentiality is ensured. The target date for initiating the evaluation is 
April 2002.

We are very excited to participate in this evaluation that will produce important data about youth and the services critical to helping youth reach self-sufficiency. Your participation will be an integral part of the success of this effort. We will continue to provide you with information and updates as they become available. If you have any questions about the evaluation, please contact the DCFS Bureau of Programs and Policies.

Central Office Contact:

Paula Brown
Independent Living and Kinship Coordinator
Bureau of Programs and Policies
Telephone: (608) 267-7287
E-mail: brownpl@dhfs.state.wi.us


Independent Living Coordinators
Ruth Murphy, BPP

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.