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Studying the Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth


  • Little data exists on how the TLP affect youth outcomes.
  • Abt has conducted three mixed-methods evaluations to address the challenge.
  • The evaluations examine youth outcomes and identify promising practices and lessons to inform the field.
The Challenge

Administered by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), the Transitional Living Program (TLP) and Maternity Group Home (MGH) grants enable organizations to provide supervised shelter, case management, and support services to people aged 16 through 21 experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Although there is research on the characteristics and needs of homeless youth and an emergent body of descriptive research on programs that serve them, reliable information about the effects of the TLP on youth is limited.

The Approach

Abt is leading three evaluations to better understand TLP and MGH programs and how youth who participate in these programs fare over time.

The Pilot Study: From November 2016 to August 2017, Abt pilot tested a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study design with 13 TLPs and 163 youth to assess the feasibility of an RCT with this population.

The Special Population Demonstration: From September 2016 to September 2018, Abt conducted a process study of nine TLPs conducting a Special Population Demonstration which required grantees to implement enhanced and innovative services targeted to youth at heightened risk of homelessness: LGBTQ+ youth and young adults who left foster care after age 18.

The Youth Outcomes Study: From September 2019 to September 2021, Abt is conducting an outcomes study to describe youth employment, education, and housing outcomes before, during, and after program participation for a sample of 365 youth across 30 TLP and MGH programs nationwide. Findings will include a discussion of how the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected youth and TLP and MGH program offerings.

The Results

The Pilot Study provided important lessons about selecting grantees for the study, developing study protocols for TLPs and the youth they serve, and challenges and opportunities for designing and implementing a future RCT of the TLP.

The Special Population Demonstration Process Study Report discusses promising strategies present in various aspects of the TLPs’ programming that address elements of wellbeing ranging from youths’ feelings of relevance and inclusion, to approaches to trauma-informed care.

Results from the Youth Outcomes Study are forthcoming.

Related Publications: