To date, little is known about how employment programs for young people with histories of foster care operate and whether they are effective in promoting positive employment outcomes. A key finding from the Multi-Site Evaluation of Foster Youth Programs is that many programs serving Chafee-eligible young people are not ready for rigorous evaluation because they lack a clearly articulated logic model or are not implemented as intended. This study fills a knowledge gap using formative evaluation to illustrate what is needed for programs to be ready for successful rigorous impact evaluation. The purpose of formative evaluation is to examine whether programs are being implemented as intended, expected outputs are being produced, and short-term outcomes are trending in the right direction; and to provide feedback to programs about program functioning and data-collection needs.
This series of formative evaluation activities explored how the employment programs iFoster Jobs and MY TIME are being implemented, who is served by each program, and whether participants seem to be reaching their employment-related goals. The study also explores how each program's goals relate to the young people they serve and their programmatic approaches. Comparing the two program's goals, populations served, and programmatic approaches provides additional insights into the variation in employment programs for young people transitioning out of foster care. (Author abstract)