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.

2023 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.

AB 369 (Zbur) Foster Care: Independent Living

Brings California in line with 30+ other states in exercising the federal option to provide independent living services to transition age youth up to age 23 and evaluates and updates these independent living services to be trauma-informed, relevant, and timely. The bill also updates state law to clarify the ability of young adults to accumulate cash savings while in extended foster care.

AB 525 (Ting) Foster youth: supervised independent living placement housing supplement

Reduces homelessness and helps foster youth compete with the increasing cost of housing by providing a housing supplemental payment to youth in Supervised Independent Living Placements (SILP) that augments the basic rate, based on the cost of housing in their county of residence.

SB 456 (Menjivar) Multifamily Housing Program: nonprofit corporations: homeless or at-risk youth

Increases housing stability and enhances the impact of Homekey for youth by allowing community-based organizations to directly apply for the youth set aside funds and clarifying that any Homekey funded program serving Nonminor Dependents in extended foster care does not require a referral through a coordinated entry system.

SB 307 (Ashby) Middle Class Scholarship Program: community colleges: current and former foster youth

Ensures foster youth have a pathway to debt free college by allowing foster youth enrolled in an associate’s degree, transfer pathway, or career technical education certificate program to have 100% of their unmet need covered after other aid is applied.

AB 963 (Schiavo) The End the Foster Care-to-Homelessness Pipeline Act

Expands the number of affordable housing units available to foster youth by establishing an unfunded loan guarantee program to provide security to qualified lenders financing the development and acquisition of housing for current and former foster youth ages 18 to 25.

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.

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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