Youth Villages

Intercept, LifeSet

Improve outcomes for youth involved, or at risk of involvement, in the foster care system by scaling access to high-quality services for children and families and for young adults who experienced foster care like Youth Villages’ Intercept and LifeSet programs.

The Scale of the Problem

For families with children at serious risk of entering or reentering the foster care system, research has consistently shown that the stakes are high: children who experience foster care are at much greater risk of negative life outcomes, including criminal justice system involvement, teen pregnancy and job instability.  

The stakes are equally high for young adults who age out of the foster care system. Faced with one of the most critical junctures of their lives, the support systems these young people have come to rely on have abruptly disappeared, 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.


youth experience foster care involvement each year across the US


of young people with prior involvement in foster care are unemployed by age 24.


of young people who age out of foster care experience homelessness by age 24.

LifeSet: A Promising Solution

Youth Villages’ LifeSet acts as a bridge from foster care to successful adulthood, putting young people in control of their lives for the first time. With intensive support from a LifeSet specialist, they shape and define their own goals as they obtain safe housing, education and employment, and develop healthy, lasting relationships. 

LifeSet is the first of such programs to demonstrate positive impacts across multiple domains in a randomized controlled trial. Youth Villages’ long-term vision for impact is that every young adult aging out or at greatest risk of aging out has access to high-quality transitional services like LifeSet.


reduction in homelessness among LifeSet participants


increase in earnings among LifeSet participants


reduction in domestic and partner violence among program participants

Intercept: A Promising Solution

Youth Villages’ Intercept program is an in-home family program used to safely prevent children from entering foster care or to reunify them with family as quickly as possible following removal. Family Intervention Specialists meet with both the child and the caregivers at their home or in their community to address issues impacting family stability. 

Intercept is rated “Well-Supported” on the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse. Three rigorous, independent evaluations have found Intercept reduces the odds of children entering foster care and increases the odds of achieving permanency (that is, returning home and not reentering care) for children exiting foster care.  

Youth Villages’ long-term vision for impact is that every youth and their family have access to the  services and support they need and that foster care is used only as a last resort. 


decrease in odds of placement into foster care compared with children who were not referred to Intercept


increase in odds of returning home compared with children who were not referred to Intercept

Blue Meridian's Investment


Our investment in LifeSet supports the second phase of Youth Villages’ scaling plan to make 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. 


Our investment in Intercept supports Youth Villages’ readiness plan to test how it can leverage Intercept growth to achieve sustainable practice change and reorient child welfare systems toward family preservation, reunification, and prevention of foster care placement. Youth Villages will innovate ways of scaling Intercept; work to shift beliefs, policies and practices among key decision-makers, such as judges and caseworkers; and explore a licensed partnership approach as a strategy for future growth. 


$66M invested over 4.5 years

Services scaled to more than 7,000 young people nationwide, or more than 40% of the eligible population aging out of foster care

Services delivered in more than 20 states and counties through direct service and partnerships


Up to $20M invested over 3.5 years

At least 85% of youth receiving Intercept in target jurisdictions are living at home or independently one-year post-discharge

Influenced practice changes in at least three target jurisdictions that collectively have 10,000-17,500+ youth at risk of out-of-home placement

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 invest:

Best-in-Class Services

Youth Villages is a national leader within the field of child welfare, operating a portfolio of evidence-based programs that support children and youth at risk of entering foster care; young people aging out of foster care; and youth in need of emergency room diversion or other crisis services and psychiatric residential treatment services. Specialists provide tailored support and leverage evidence-based practices to develop comprehensive, clinically driven treatment plans aligned to the self-identified goals of each youth and family. Youth Villages continues to refine its practices, ensuring the best possible outcomes for those they serve.

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 in LifeSet. 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

Child welfare systems spend an average annual cost of over $30,000 per child in foster care–more than three times the cost of supporting a child through Youth Villages Intercept, which costs approximately $9,000 per family served.

Meanwhile, 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. Youth Villages LifeSet costs an average of $11,550 per youth per year.

About Youth Villages

Since its founding in 1986, Youth Villages has grown to offer a continuum of evidence-based programs for children, families and young people across the United States who face a wide range of emotional, mental, and behavioral problems. It works to find solutions using proven treatment models that strengthen the child’s family and support systems and dramatically improve their long-term success. Youth Villages directly helps tens of thousands of young people and their families every year and increases its impact through partnerships and advocacy.

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 36,000 and expanded to 24 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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