The Scale of the Problem
Every year, over 20,000 youth age out of foster care, entering adulthood without the support most teens receive from family and friends. At one of the most critical junctures of their lives, the support systems these youth have come to rely on abruptly disappear, leaving them unprepared to adapt to the demands of daily life.
Youth aging out of the foster care system are extremely vulnerable, often facing futures of homelessness, incarceration and poverty with enormous societal costs over their lifetimes.
A Promising Solution
Youth Villages’ YVLifeset is an intensive intervention that lasts 6-12 months on average and pairs highly trained specialists with young people aging out of foster care to help them acquire the skills they need to live independently and set them on a path to successful adulthood. This 24/7 program is the first transitional services program to demonstrate positive results across multiple domains. Youth Villages is embarking on an ambitious plan to ensure that all young people aging out of foster care nationwide have access to comprehensive, evidence-informed services like YVLifeSet.
When youth who have been in foster care reach legal adulthood (between 18 and 21, depending on jurisdiction), the support systems they’ve come to rely on abruptly disappear—forcing them to find housing, hold jobs and/or pursue education on their own. Often these young people have not yet developed the skills to navigate the world on their own, and, to make matters worse, some suffer from mental health problems, or even have small children of their own to care for.
18 months after leaving foster care, 50% end up unemployed
18 months after leaving foster care, 25% end up homeless
By age 26, more than 50% have been arrested
YVLifeSet helps young adults ages 17-22 who are aging out of foster care develop independent living skills to support themselves and grow into self-sufficient, productive members of their communities. Twelve months after the program, the majority of participants transition successfully into adulthood.
83% of participants are in school, graduated, or employed
85% have had no trouble with the law
92% live independently or with family
Blue Meridian’s Investment
Our investment supports the first phase of Youth Villages’ 11-year Scaling Plan to make YVLifeSet or peer programs with comparable results available to nearly all of the over 20,000 youth in the US who age out of foster care annually, as well as to expand Youth Villages’ continuum of services for troubled youth and their families. Key markers of success include the following:
$36.1 million over 4 years
Increase numbers of youth served through YVLifeSet by 30% to 3,019
Deliver YVLifeSet to young adults in 9-11 states through a combination of partnerships with local providers and direct service by Youth Villages
Why We Are Excited About Youth Villages
Every organization in our investment portfolio is ready to embark on significant scaling and displays a multitude of strengths. Here are some highlights of the tremendous potential we saw in Youth Villages’ scaling strategy for YVLifeSet that motivated us to invest:
Youth Villages is a leader in deploying evidenced-informed programs for this very vulnerable population of young adults who have often endured trauma and have no family or community supports.
Youth Villages’ staff draw from a continuum of services to provide individualized treatments to the children and youth they serve. The organization is deeply committed to data and evaluation, and uses its ongoing learnings to continually innovate and improve its models.
CEO Pat Lawler has led the organization since its founding and overseen tremendous growth over more than three decades. Under his watch, Youth Villages has grown from serving 25 youth daily to 4,600 daily. Pat now leads an effective team of over 3,000 employees working in 74 locations in 58 cities and delivering an array of specialized treatment programs for troubled young people. Pat’s strong track record has led to his recognition as one of America’s top nonprofit leaders (US News & World Report).
Potential Cost Savings for Government
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities calculates that each young adult who ages out of foster care costs society more than $300,000 over his/her lifetime - from criminal justice and welfare costs to lost wages and lower productivity. Youth Villages offers the potential for tremendous savings to states adopting YVLifeSet 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-informed programs to more than 25,300 children and young people across 14 states. In 1999, Youth Villages created YVLifeSet to provide transitional services to youth aging out of foster care, and those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges. The program now serves nearly 3,000 young adults annually across ten states, with comprehensive, individualized services that help them make the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.
Get Set for Life
Giving every young adult aging out of foster care the chance to realize their potential.
Chief Executive Officer
Patrick Lawler, CEO, has led Youth Villages since 1980. Under his leadership it has grown from serving 80 children and families annually to over 26,000 and expanded across Tennessee and into 15 states. He is a frequent guest lecturer 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.