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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 23, No. 1
May 2018

NYTD and the Success of Transitioning Youth

The National Youth in Transition Database, or NYTD, has a big impact on the success of transitioning youth. Curious about how a database can make such a difference to foster care alumni and youth in care? The answer has to do with two things: funding and measuring outcomes.

The Link to LINKS
NYTD came into being because of Public Law 106-169, a 1999 federal statute that established the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP). This program provides states with flexible funding for programs to help youth make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. CFCIP funds are what's behind independent living services across the country; in North Carolina, they support LINKS programming.

When it created the CFCIP, Congress also required the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to develop a system for collecting data on independent living programs so we can understand how states use CFCIP funds and what services are effective. NYTD is this data collection effort.

Data Collection
With NYTD, every state must engage in two data collection activities:

  1. They must collect information on youth and the independent living services they receive that are paid for or provided by CFCIP funds.
  2. States must also collect outcome information on youth in foster care at age 17 and must follow these youth over time to collect additional outcome information at ages 19 and 21. The NYTD survey used at these ages asks youth how they are doing regarding finances, housing, health, education, and more.

States began collecting NYTD data in 2010 and are required to report data to ACF every six months. A state's NYTD submissions are evaluated based on several factors, including the extent to which the data are error-free and whether enough youth participate in NYTD surveys.

North Carolina has a strong track record when it comes to NYTD reporting, thanks to ongoing efforts by county LINKS coordinators, foster care workers, and others to recruit and support youth and foster care alumni in completing NYTD surveys.

The NYTD Review
To ensure NYTD is implemented correctly, ACF has developed the NYTD Review. Similar to the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR), the NYTD Review is a means of comprehensively evaluating a state's policies and practices related to collecting and reporting timely, reliable, and accurate data on youth in transition. Just as states create a program improvement plan (PIP) after the CFSR, states found to be out of compliance on the NYTD Review must complete and monitor a NYTD improvement plan.

North Carolina's first NYTD Review will likely occur in 2019. For more on NYTD Reviews, see ACF's NYTD Review Guide (

What's at Stake
NYTD affects the success of youth in transition in part because it is tied to funding. Federal law requires ACF to impose a penalty of between one and five percent of the state's annual CFCIP allotment on any state that fails to comply with reporting requirements.

Partial loss of CFCIP funds could potentially weaken a state's ability to serve transitioning youth. In federal fiscal year 2018, North Carolina expects to receive and spend $3.1 million in CFCIP funds to serve approximately 5,580 young people.

This funding source may be more important to North Carolina today than ever. Our state recently increased the support it provides to youth in care through the creation of the Foster Care 18 to 21 Program. This program is likely to boost the number of youth counting on and benefiting from CFCIP funds, as more opt to remain in care to take advantage of the resources this program provides to help them attain self-sufficiency.

Yet NYTD's importance is about more than funding. It also provides a new source of data with the potential to help us understand which independent living programs and services are most helpful. Informed by NYTD data, agencies may be able to develop new or adjust existing services to be more effective and efficient.

This is a priority in North Carolina. Erin Conner, statewide coordinator of our state's LINKS program, notes that the Division of Social Services recently added a team focused on analysis of child welfare data. Conner says she is committed to working with this new team and with county child welfare agencies to understand and spread the word about which LINKS services and programs produce the best results.

Resources for Learning More

  • Video Series. The U.S. Children's Bureau recently released a six-part video series about NYTD and the NYTD Review. These short, animated videos are a valuable resource to educate youth, families, and others about NYTD. They are available at

  • NYTD Data Briefs. To read short reports summarizing findings from national NYTD data, visit