What is YVLifeSet?

YVLifeSet is designed to help young adults with child-welfare-system involvement transition to adulthood. It is the largest program in the country showing positive impacts for this population across multiple areas, as evidenced by random assignment evaluation. Developed by Youth Villages, a national provider of children’s behavioral health services, YVLifeSet is an evidence-informed program model.

When and how did the YVLifeSet program begin in Allegheny County?

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) was awarded a three-year, $1 million grant in 2017 to implement the YVLifeSet pilot program beginning in January 2018. Grant funding was provided by Youth Villages by way of Blue Meridian Partners, a national funding collaboration that invests in nonprofits that have a positive impact on economically disadvantaged children and young adults. Local foundations, including The Pittsburgh Foundation, are also supporting the startup of the program. Allegheny County is the third site nationally to replicate the YVLifeSet program with a local provider.

Who administers YVLifeSet in Allegheny County?

Youth Villages serves as a partner in Allegheny County’s administration of the program, providing training and technical assistance. Direct service staff (four YVLifeSet specialists and the team supervisor) are employed locally by DHS-contracted provider Pressley Ridge. Pressley Ridge was selected through a competitive Request for Proposals application process to implement the YVLifeSet model in Allegheny County.

What DHS attributes justified it being one of the three sites nationally to be awarded the grant?

DHS offers a wide range of Independent Living (IL) services designed to make the transition to adulthood more successful for young adults who age out of the child welfare system before a permanent family setting is achieved. These include the 412 Youth Zone, supportive housing, education liaisons, transition planners, Youth Support Partners and justice-related services. DHS data suggests that some transition-age young adults are doing better. Data also suggests that a small subset of eligible young adults are choosing not to access supportive IL services. DHS made a compelling argument that launching YVLifeSet in Allegheny County could improve the futures of those disengaged young adults by following the intensive, evidence-informed model developed by Youth Villages.

Who is eligible for YVLifeSet?

Any young adult between the ages of 17 and 22 years who spent at least 30 days in an out-of-home placement through the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) after the age of 14 is eligible for IL services. Allegheny County is referring young adults to YVLifeSet who are eligible for IL services, but who have not recently shown an interest in those services.

How does a young adult become a participant in YVLifeSet?

Young adults may be referred to YVLifeSet by their CYF caseworker, a DHS-contracted provider or another professional who believes the offered services would benefit the youth. Once selected, the young adult makes a voluntary commitment to full participation for an average of nine months, including weekly meetings with their YVLifeSet clinically trained specialist and completion of the goals identified in their individual service plan. Since the program is in its pilot phase and space is limited, not everyone who is referred is accepted.

What is the role of the YVLifeSet specialist?

Each of the four YVLifeSet specialists is a clinically trained professional with experience in working with at-risk youth. They carry caseloads of eight to 10 youth. Specialists provide coaching, direct support and connections to resources to help the young adult achieve the goals they have identified. Meetings are conducted at times and in locations in the community that are convenient for the young adult. Youth Villages trains the YVLifeSet specialists to deliver the YVLifeSet model and provides weekly clinical consultation on each of the YVLifeSet cases.

What areas are the focus of YVLifeSet involvement?

The focus of YVLifeSet work is determined by the individual needs of each young adult. Common areas include education, housing, employment, community-based supports, mental health, transportation, safety, independence and healthy relationships.

When does a young adult “graduate” from YVLifeSet?

Young adults complete their work with the YVLifeSet specialist when each of their goals is successfully achieved. Their specialist reviews natural and community-based supports to ensure the young adult has the support they need to maintain their independence into adulthood. Graduates may re-engage with standard IL services, if desired.

How will outcomes be measured?

Allegheny County DHS will collect data to measure each youth’s progress in the areas of housing, employment, education, community-based supports and criminal justice involvement. Data collection occurs at various intervals, specifically program enrollment, exit and post-discharge (six months, one year and two years after program completion).

More Information

To learn more about YVLifeSet, please contact Courtney Lewis at 412-350-4556.