Policy Work

Creating Systems Change for Better Futures



Leading with Data and Evidence to Better Serve
Transition-Age Foster Youth in the U.S.

We take a dual approach to our mission: results-driven direct services to support individual foster youth in achieving their goals and policy advocacy to improve the lives of as many foster youth as possible. Our direct service work informs our advocacy to promote stability and success for all foster youth. We monitor our work in real-time, consistently innovating to improve outcomes and sharing recommendations grounded in real practice with providers and policy-makers.

How We Make an Impact Through Policy

Our policy efforts span multiple levers to influence systems change for foster youth.

Levers for Systems Change

As a direct service provider, we operate within a system of laws, regulations, and funding streams that can alternately empower or hinder our work and the successful trajectories of our participants. We believe both providers and the youth they serve should help drive systems changes based on their direct knowledge of the field.

To that end, we engage system stakeholders to ground policy and practice in data, program learnings, and youth voices. Generally, foster system stakeholders share common, well-intentioned goals. By breaking down silos and sharing common knowledge, we have the opportunity to drive optimal outcomes together.

This means we use our data and learnings to influence:


The availability and flow of public funding.


The norms and practices reflected in the implementation of official policies by public agencies and program providers.


The narratives and “mental models” that keep a system stuck and prevent our young people from attaining success.

2024 Legislative Priorities

Each year, First Place for Youth monitors key legislation in California and beyond and partners with advocates and youth to push for policies that remove barriers to independence and advance equity for foster youth.

Watch this space to read about our policy priorities, recent wins and subscribe at the link below to receive policy updates.

SB 1079 (Menjivar) Youth Housing Bond Act of 2024

Combats homelessness and housing instability for California’s current and former foster youth by creating a dedicated funding source, the Youth Housing Bond Fund Act of 2024, that will allow both public agencies and community-based organizations with specific youth expertise to directly apply for funds for the purpose of acquiring, renovating, constructing, or purchasing youth housing.

AB 2477 (Zbur) Foster Care: Independent Living

Provides foster youth with the chance to grow the best financial safety net possible by clarifying in state law that youth are allowed to accumulate cash savings while they are in extended foster care, without jeopardizing their determination of benefits eligibility.

SB 1322 (Wahab) Foster youth: Chafee Educational and Training Vouchers Program

Ensures that more foster youth receive support for educational pursuits and job training by lowering the eligible age for the California Chafee Education and Training Grant from 16 years old to 14 years old.

First Place for Youth opposes the proposed eliminations of the following programs in this year’s budget:

Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) Housing Supplement

The SILP Housing Supplement was recently established in the 2023 Budget, and provides a housing supplement for youth in a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP), based on the cost of housing in the County where the youth resides. Without this supplement, youth will be unable to compete with the increasing cost of housing in California and therefore, be at a greater risk of homelessness.

Housing Navigation and Maintenance Program (HNMP)

This program was enacted in 2021 and provides housing navigation and supportive services to youth up to age 25 who hold a special population Housing Choice Voucher for former foster youth. Since its inception, HNMP has helped to decrease homelessness among transition-age youth by increasing the number of housing vouchers for former foster youth by 54%.

Family Unification Response System (FURS)

FURS was established in 2019 and provides a child welfare-specific support system comprised of a 24/7 statewide hotline and in-person mobile response teams in all 58 counties. Services are offered by specially trained staff who understand the distinct, trauma-based needs of young people in foster care and their families. The elimination of this program place youth currently or formerly in foster care at greater risk of instability, disrupted relationships, loss, and re-traumatization.

Research & Recommendations

At First Place, everything begins with the youth we serve.

At every step, we collect quantitative and qualitative data to track outcomes, improve our services, and understand the impact of our work. Then, we analyze and leverage that data to generate learnings about what works best to support youth exiting foster care to independent adult lives.

In addition, we share our data by publishing research and policy briefs that highlight learnings within the field to help drive systems-level change to promote equitable outcomes for foster youth.

Here’s a collection of our latest research. Click below to explore our full collection of research and recommendations.


Building system- and provider-level evidence to drive equitable education and employment outcomes for youth in extended foster care


Comparing our outcomes to the top ten extended foster care non-minor dependent program (THP-NMD) peer providers in California.


Integrating Early and Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) services into extended foster care placements: lessons learned


An Exploratory Study of Pregnant and Parenting Youth in the Foster Care System

Elevating Youth Voices

The voices of young people in our programs and program alumni inform our work. We solicit feedback and cultivate youth leaders to join our Board of Directors and engage in policy advocacy. We strongly believe it is critical for youth with lived experience in the foster care system to have a voice in developing policies that influence and impact their lives.

California Youth Voice (CAYV)

California Youth Voice is a program where young adults can advocate for meaningful changes in foster care. Through mentorship, workshops, and advocacy campaigns, youth are equipped with the tools & confidence to become effective changemakers.

Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC)

Our Young Adult Leadership Council provides feedback on important program priorities and insight on key policy activities. The council also engages in advocacy efforts on behalf of First Place’s legislative priorities.

Mississippi Youth Voice Program

Young leaders work together with policy makers, regulators, foster parents, foster youth and other stakeholders to improve outcomes for foster youth in the state

What’s Happening At First Place for Youth

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