Grant Recipient: Colorado Seminary, which owns and operates the University of Denver
Term: 2018 –2022
Principal Investigators: Elysia Clemens, Ph.D., University of Denver
Kristin Klopfenstein, Ph.D., University of Denver
Summary: This is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Fostering Opportunities, a program that provides 7th-10th grade youth in foster care with an advocate who coordinates between teachers, families, social workers and other systems involved in foster youths’ lives to help the youths succeed in school. A major focus of the advocate is to prevent these youth from having to frequently change schools, based on research indicating that such school changes are a potentially important contributor to foster care youths’ very low on-time high school graduation rates (in Colorado, where this study will take place, only 23% of foster care youth graduated on-time in 2017, compared to the statewide on-time graduation rate of 79%).
The program is similar to the Check and Connect model, which has been shown in two well-conducted RCTs to produce sizable increases in school attendance and graduation rates for samples of high school students with learning, emotional, and/or behavioral disabilities. The Fostering Opportunities program has been piloted on a small scale in the school district where this study will take place, and has been implemented effectively.
This study will randomly assign approximately 280 students over the course of two school years to either a group that is offered the program or a control group that is not. The study will measure impacts on attendance and course completion over a two year follow-up period using administrative data from Jefferson County Public Schools and Denver Public Schools. The study team has previously carried out a well-implemented RCT.
This project came about as a result of a Pay for Success initiative launched by the Colorado Governor’s office to fund programs backed by promising prior evidence of effectiveness in serving youth involved in the state’s foster care and/or juvenile justice systems.
The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.