Youth Villages, LifeSet

Ensure youth aging out of foster care can transition successfully to adulthood by scaling access to comprehensive high-quality services like Youth Villages’ LifeSet.

The Scale of the Problem

In any given year, approximately 25,000 young adults, 16-21, age out or are at risk of aging out of the foster care system. Without comprehensive support, they’re at significant risk for negative life outcomes. Faced with one of the most critical junctures of their lives, they are forced to find housing, hold jobs and/or pursue education on their own. Yet, the support systems these youth have come to rely on abruptly disappear, leaving them unprepared to adapt to the demands of daily life.

The costs to society of negative outcomes for these young people amount to approximately $4 billion – roughly $180,000 per young adult.


of youth end up unemployed within 18 months of leaving foster care


of youth end up homeless within 18 months of leaving foster care


of youth will be in the criminal justice system within 12 months of leaving foster care

A Promising Solution

With comprehensive support young people who have experienced foster care can overcome childhood adversity and reach their full potential as adults. LifeSet, a program of Youth Villages, acts as a bridge from foster care to successful adulthood. LifeSet puts young people in control of their lives for the first time. They shape and define their own goals with a LifeSet specialist by their side as they obtain safe housing, education, and employment, and develop healthy relationships.

The evidence-based program is the first to demonstrate positive impacts across multiple domains in a randomized controlled trial. Youth Villages has an ambitious plan to ensure that all young people aging out of foster care nationwide have access to high-quality, comprehensive services like LifeSet.


of participants are in school, graduated, or employed one year after leaving the program


of former participants had no trouble with the law within one year after leaving the program


of former participants live independently or with family within one year after leaving the program

Blue Meridian's Investment

Our investment supports the second phase of Youth Villages’ Scaling Plan to make LifeSet and other high-quality services available to youth who age out or are at greatest risk of aging out of foster care. Youth Villages will expand partnerships with local public agencies and nonprofits trained to deliver LifeSet locally and will test the impact and scalability of its online clinical portal, GuideTree, as a complementary channel for growth. Key markers of success include the following:

$66M invested over 4.5 years

Scale services to over 7,000 young people nationwide, or 40%-plus of the eligible population aging out of foster care

Services delivered in more than 20 states and counties through a combination of direct services and with local provider partnerships

Why We Are Excited About Youth Villages

Every organization in our Nationwide Solutions investment portfolio has embarked on significant scaling and continues to make progress toward their goals. Here are some highlights of Youth Villages’ potential to scale its impact, which motivated us to make an additional investment:

Best-in-class Services

Youth Villages is a leader in the development of evidence-based models to bring positive impacts to the lives of children, families and young adults involved in children’s systems. LifeSet is a comprehensive, evidence-based model for those at greatest risk of aging out of foster care. LifeSet specialists provide support and leverage evidence-based practices to deliver comprehensive, clinically driven treatment plans tailored to the strengths and needs of each young adult. Youth Villages continues to refine its practices, ensuring the best possible outcomes for a successful adulthood.

A Track Record of Growth

Since 1994, Youth Villages has developed and implemented evidence-based program models, becoming an integral part of child welfare reform in numerous states and counties across the country. In addition to demonstrating its ability to replicate its program models with fidelity through direct service, it launched a new partnership strategy during the first phase of Blue Meridian’s investment. By training local public agencies and nonprofits to deliver its models locally, Youth Villages has validated a path to scaling its work more rapidly and efficiently across the country.

Potential Cost Savings for Government

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative calculates that each young adult who ages out of foster care costs society nearly $200,000 over his/her lifetime – from criminal justice and welfare costs to lost wages and lower productivity. Because LifeSet costs an average of $10,500 per youth per year, Youth Villages offers the potential for substantial savings to states adopting LifeSet by putting former foster youth on a positive path toward successful adulthood.

About Youth Villages

Since its founding in 1986, Youth Villages has grown to offer a continuum of evidence-based programs to more than 30,000 children, families, and young people across 23 states and the District of Columbia. In 1999, Youth Villages created LifeSet to provide comprehensive services to young people who turn 18 while in foster care. LifeSet now helps ~6,000 young people annually, becoming the bridge to successful adulthood.

Learn more about Youth Villages

Patrick Lawler

Chief Executive Officer

Since 1986, Patrick Lawler, CEO, led Youth Villages’ growth from serving 80 children and families annually to over 32,000 and expanded to 23 states and the District of Columbia. He is a national public speaker and was recognized in 2006 by U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Leaders.” Lawler earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Memphis.

The Bridge to Adulthood

A bridge from foster care to success for young people who turn 18 without family or other support.

The Bridge to Adulthood

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