Study: Iowa’s post-foster care program is succeeding

AMES — An Iowa State University study concludes the state of Iowa is offering a successful program model for young people after they leave the foster care system.

Professor Carl Weems, who chairs ISU’s department of human development and family studies, helped develop the study which gauges the risks and effects of trauma, along with prevention and interventions that bolster resilience.

“Community agencies who do this work with the kids directly provide mentoring, and access to different services,” Weems says. “We’ve compiled five years of that data to look at how they’re doing in terms of finishing their education, getting their high school diploma, or going on to college, and employment, their general satisfaction with the services.”

Young adults who leave foster care are less likely to have a safety net and financial support from family, he says, adding to the challenges in the transition to adulthood.

Weems says most youth in our state’s foster care program enroll in the Iowa Aftercare Service Network shortly after they turn 18, and they engage in the program for more than two-and-a-half years.

“Our report is about how well that support network is working,” he says, “and the data that we published in our paper and a peer-reviewed journal is suggesting it’s a pretty good model and working really well.”

The Iowa Aftercare Service Network is designed to reduce risks and helps to support the 18-to-21-year-olds as they become self-sufficient.