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Coming of Age: Employment Outcomes for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care Through Their Middle Twenties

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A primary task for youth in transitioning to adulthood is sustaining employment to be self-sufficient. Studies of former youth who age out of foster care find that they generally experience unstable employment patterns and earn very low incomes between ages 18 and 20. However, less is known about whether these youths' initial patterns of employment instability and low earnings persist. This study linked child welfare, Unemployment Insurance (UI) and TANF administrative data to assess employment outcomes for former youth through age 24 in three states: California, North Carolina, and Minnesota. Descriptive, multivariate, and trajectory analysis techniques are employed to describe employment patterns. Findings indicate that low rates of employment persist through age 24; Low earnings persist through age 24 though few receive TANF benefits; and youth show four patterns of connectedness to the workforce that may provide insights to program planners considering how to best tailor services to youths' needs. [84 PDF Pages]