Better Futures

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Program is designed to help young people in foster case with mental health challenges prepare for post-secondary education and adult life
  • Rooted in the concepts of Self-Determination Theory; offers a blend of developmental and instrumental mentoring
  • Program takes place over a 10-month period. Students are provided with individual, bi-monthly peer-coaching sessions to determine post-secondary goals and participate in five mentoring workshops with peer coaches and professionals
  • “Summer Institute”—four days on a university campus, where students stay in dorms, take part in information sessions and learn about college admissions, resources, and other subjects related to postsecondary success

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, the National Institute of Justice


Target population

High school-aged children

Program cost

Not available

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased postsecondary preparation
  • Lowered self-reported levels of hopelessness and barriers to education
  • Increased likelihood of attending college
  • Reduced levels of criminal activity

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • The intervention requires coordination among several key stakeholders, including foster care agencies, universities and schools, and mental health service providers in the project area.
  • Recruitment of qualified peer coaches, who are able to relate to program participants, to provide relevant support is considered essential for the success of the program.
  • A central part of the model is support provided to youth by “near-peers”, who are currently in college and who have shared experiences and can normalize issues around foster care and/or mental health.
  • Flexibility of the program allows mentors to focus their attention on those experiences and skills most relevant for mentees as opposed to a rigid checklist of components of program fidelity.
  • The direct emphasis on mental health is an essential feature as youth in foster care are more likely than youth in the general population to experience mental health conditions.
  • Correctly identifying and addressing mental health challenges faced by youth in foster care are key components of success.
  • Recruiting participants in a highly inclusive way is essential. Past groups have included people with varying mental health conditions as well as a range of physical and mental disabilities.

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Resources