First Place for Youth

A foundation for life after foster care.

    • May 1, 2013

For many foster children, life is anything but stable. Children raised in more traditional home settings learn the life skills necessary to cope in the adult world, but many foster children simply are ill-prepared for their sudden "emancipation" at 18. States are making changes to allow youth to stay in foster care until age 21, but former foster youth are still at high risk for homelessness, poverty, low educational attainment and poor health.

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of @FPFY's Youth obtained jobs while in the program

In California—where 70 percent of the inmates in San Quentin State Prison are former foster children—a Foundation-supported program is helping to ease that often-difficult transition from foster care to independent living—beginning two years before they turn 18.

Called First Place for Youth, the program gives young adults a safe, secure place to live, along with occupational and educational support services. First Place houses more than 350 youth in four San Francisco Bay Area counties and Los Angeles, and is now considered a national role model.

A recent evaluation found that participation in First Place led to positive outcomes for youth in housing, education, employment and healthy living. Participants indicated lower levels of depression and greater positive social support after 6 to 12 months.

Preliminary evidence strongly indicates that First Place for Youth’s programs are well-positioned to be replicated, especially as more states begin serving transition-age foster youth.  As CEO Sam Cobbs says: "If we can do it here, we can do it everywhere."



First Place For Youth helps young people aging out of foster care by providing comprehensive support and services so they can transition into being independent, healthy adults. They look at the needs of the whole person and provide an array of support, from stable housing to educational and career assistance to connections with physical and mental health providers. VP’s investment has helped First Place for Youth replicate their model in several California locations, and they’re looking at replication possibilities in other places across the country where large populations of kids are aging out of the foster care system.

Kristen Schubert, RWJF Team Director, Vulnerable Populations