Evaluation of the Life Skills Training Program, Los Angeles County, California

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Life Skills Training (LST) program - funded through the John Chafee Foster Care Independence Program - consists of 10 three-hour classes held twice a week in 19 community colleges throughout Los Angeles County. Researchers looked at hard outcomes, including completion of a high school diploma or GED, employment status, reported earnings, and the receipt of formal and informal financial assistance. They also asked youths how prepared they felt to live as adults and obtain a job, and documented data on residential stability and homelessness, delinquency, pregnancy, possession of needed documentation and the establishment of bank accounts.

The evaluation found few impacts on any outcome assessed. Even after statistical adjustments for violations of random assignment, the findings gave "no reason to believe that LST had a significant positive impact on any of the concrete indicators of successful transition to adulthood." The researchers conclude that classroom-based life skills training may add little to what foster youths are already obtaining from other sources. The evaluation was conducted under contract by the Urban Institute, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, and the National Opinion Research Center. Free, 128 pages. (888) 747-1861, www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/abuse_neglect/chafee/reports/eval_lst/eval_lst.pdf.