Amber MisaCenter researchers for the National Youth in Transition Database have found that housing instability is a major concern for young people leaving the South Carolina foster care system. Almost half of survey respondents reported having lived in five or more homes during foster care. 16% said they experienced homelessness within the past two years. From their review of the data, NYTD researchers Misa Bailey and Dr. Amber Baughman developed recommendations for a data-driven response to this issue. They urged child welfare agencies to offer additional counseling and future-planning support to educate their transition-aged youth on available housing resources.

Since 2010, the National Youth in Transition Database has assisted child welfare providers in better understanding youth experiences and perceptions of foster care. Housed at the Center, South Carolina’s NYTD researchers have surveyed hundreds of youth at regular intervals as they transition into their adult lives. Their respected track record has drawn widespread recognition, including an invitation to present at the American Evaluation Association’s international conference this fall.

The SC NYTD team is continuing to track youth perceptions and experiences involving foster care. In October the team launched a survey of its third cohort of 19-year-old youth. The survey reconnects with respondents interviewed as 17-year-olds in 2016-2017. To accompany federally mandated queries, the SC NYTD team designed questions about education, finances, housing, social support, and access to health care services. These additions add value to the survey. Once processed through the Center’s expert analysis, the results will give providers the data they need to improve services for youth leaving foster care.

(Picture: Amber Baughman and Misa Bailey)

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