Chafee Independent Living Spending Analysis
May 18, 2020
Independent Living Programs (ILPs) administer the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood resources to help young people from foster care navigate the challenges of transitioning from foster care to adulthood. Chafee Independent Living (IL) and Education and Training Voucher (ETV) funds are highly flexible and can be used to meet many of the immediate needs of young people, including supplemental support for housing, food, as well as educational and vocation support.
The Independent Living Program (ILP) is a federally funded program designed to assist eligible youth in making successful transitions from foster care to independent living. Independent Living Coordinators in the States are responsible for assisting youth in foster care with accessing services geared toward achieving self-sufficiency prior to exiting foster care. The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program was originally created in 2001 with the passage of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001. The purpose of the ETV Program is to provide financial assistance for postsecondary training and education to youth who have aged out of foster care or who have left foster care after age 16 through kinship, guardianship, or adoption.1
Chafee funds have long been thought to be underfunded, however, these resources are especially critical now as youth are losing housing, facing unemployment or layoffs, struggling to pay for basic needs, and trying to navigate this crisis without strong connections to parents or other adults who can provide them with guidance.
Each year, approximately 186,000 youth between ages of 14 and 23 are estimated eligible for Chafee funds, however, estimates suggest just 60 percent receive assistance. Those that receive help are provided about $1,300 in services and financial assistance per youth. See Table 1 for state by state analysis of the number of youth who were served by Chafee and approximately how much of the state’s overall Chafee Independent Living funds would have gone to support the child (including cash and admin/services). For example, in Pennsylvania in 2018, there were 5,063 youth served by Chafee Independent Living Services, and Pennsylvania’s allotment was roughly $4.7 million for approximately $933 spent per youth including cash and admin/services).
In addition, the Chafee ETV program provides $42.4 million in education and training vouchers to young people who have aged out of foster care to help them get postsecondary training and education. If each youth served received the maximum award benefit of $5,000, a conservative estimate suggests the ETV program would serve approximately 8,500 youth of the potentially 100,000 youth between the ages of 18 and 22 who would be eligible (or 8 percent). See Table 2 for a state by state comparison. For example, California receives $5.3 million in ETV funds (in 2018). If each youth received the max award in California, the state could provide ETVs to roughly 1,065 youth out of the approximately 11,000 youth who would be eligible.2