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 overview

  • Improving outcomes for foster youth: Developed by Youth Villages, YV LifeSet is a community-based program that supports young people who age out of foster care in making a successful transition into adulthood. By addressing key barriers faced by transition-age youth, Lifeset may improve participants’ economic, interpersonal, and health outcomes.

  • Supporting transition-age youth: LifeSet is designed to support young people aged 17 to 22 who are currently or were previously in the foster care system. Typically, young people are assessed for eligibility and invited to participate in the program as they approach their 18th birthday. Specific eligibility criteria vary, often due to state and federal regulations or particular funding requirements.

  • Providing a range of support services: LifeSet provides participants with intensive and individualized support through weekly, in-person meetings with a trained specialist. Specialists help youth identify their goals and support them in making consistent progress toward achieving them. Specialists also connect youth with a range of resources, in areas like education, housing, employment, healthcare, and more.

  • Multiple delivery models: LifeSet may be implemented at the local or state level. In some cases, Youth Villages delivers the LifeSet program directly, while in other cases, it partners with local social services nonprofits or public agencies to deliver services. In the latter case, Youth Villages provides technical assistance to the implementing organization, usually consisting of two weeks of training for the relevant staff.

Cost per Participant
Approximately $10,000 per participant

One study with a rigorous design demonstrates that LifeSet is a well-supported strategy for improving economic, interpersonal, and health outcomes for transition-age youth.

  • A 2018 randomized controlled trial found that, one year after beginning the program, LifeSet participants reported earning an average of $600 more than individuals in the control group. Participants also reported a statistically significant decrease in housing instability, economic hardship, mental health conditions, and experiences of domestic violence.
  • Create a referral and outreach process: Implementing agencies should develop an outreach and referral process for young people in the foster care system that are approaching their 18th birthday. By recruiting participants before they lose access to support services through the traditional foster care system, implementing agencies will be better positioned to proactively prepare young people for their transition into adulthood.

  • Identify and train effective staff: To be effective, LifeSet specialists need to be able to build a sense of rapport with program participants. As such, implementing agencies should select staff with significant experience working with and/or similar backgrounds to transition-age youth in their jurisdiction. In addition to training provided by Youth Villages, implementing agencies should provide additional opportunities for staff to develop clinical skills, such as regular one-on-one meetings with supervisors or group meetings to encourage collaboration between specialists.

  • Utilize resources from Youth Villages: The LifeSet model is supported by a robust, online clinical guidance portal called GuideTree. The Youth Villages team has developed and refined this tool for use by its own and its partners’ direct service providers. The GuideTree platform guides LifeSet specialists through selecting the most appropriate, evidence-based clinical interventions and tools for each session with a young person.

  • Develop relationships with community organizations: The LifeSet model takes a holistic approach to supporting young people as they transition out of the foster care system. As such, implementing organizations need to be able to offer participants a range of support services. If an organization does not offer comprehensive services in-house, it should develop a referral process with other social service and community organizations in the area.