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LifeSet, A Program of Youth Villages, provides young adults the support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adulthood. It is one of the largest programs in the United States helping youth formally in foster care and transition-age youth become successful, independent adults.

LifeSet services are highly individualized and tailored to suit the individual strengths and needs of each young adult, and areas addressed can include education, employment, housing stability, healthy relationships, mental and physical health, and other independent living skills. Specialists meet with the young adults wherever the young adult feels comfortable i.e. the young adult’s home, place of employment, school or a community setting.


LifeSet is an evidence-based intervention that has assisted more than 20,000 young people between the ages of 17-22 since it’s inception in 1999. A randomized controlled study of LifeSet—the largest study of this population to date—showed that the program is one of the only services that benefits young people in several areas of their lives. Study results indicated positive impacts of LifeSet on youths’ earnings, likelihood of employment and part-time employment, use of SNAP, and access to medical care at one year following program entry. Results suggested the program led to reductions in housing instability, economic hardship, homelessness and couch-surfing, mental health problems, and domestic and partner violence.

LifeSet in New Jersey

The Department of Children and Famlies’ 2020-2024 Chafee Plan includes the need to update services for older youth who are involved with child welfare and need assistance in preparing for adulthood. The LifeSet program provides the opportunity to pilot a comprehensive service model for 17-21 year old young adults in New Jersey to address the needs outlined in the Chafee Plan. The goals of LifeSet in New Jersey are to:

  • Reduce homelessness and economic hardships
  • Increasing Youth well-being, social supports, educational attainment and earnings and employment

The LifeSet Program will be piloted over a 3 year period for youth ages 17-21 in New Jersey who are eligible for Chafee services. There are 4 contracted community agencies who are implementing the program throughout 18 of the 21 counties in New Jersey. During the pilot, youth living in Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon counties will not be able to receive this service.

  • Acenda
  • Care Plus
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Metuchen
  • Preferred Behavioral Health
There will be a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation called the Young Adult Services Study (YASS), in NJ by The Urban Institute.  The purpose of YASS is to improve the lives of youth and young adults currently and formerly in foster care by learning about their experiences during their transition out of foster care in New Jersey. The study will collect information about the services, including but not limited to LifeSet, youth receive and how they fare after leaving foster care.  During October 2020 through August 2021 priority for referrals to LifeSet were given to 21-year-old young adults whose cases were still open with CP&P. Random assignment is set to begin for eligible young people ages 17 through 21 in August 2021. The evaluation team will randomly assign youth to either LifeSet or have them continue in or begin DCF services as usual.

The Young Adult Services Study (YASS) and LifeSet Referral Process – We understand that there may be interest from a variety of stakeholders for a young person they work with or are aware of to participate in the LifeSet program.  For this pilot program please note that there are no direct referrals to the LifeSet program.  All referrals are made by DCF to the appropriate LifeSet provider once a youth has been randomly selected by the evaluation team.  The current internal process for referrals of youth to the LifeSet program is as follows:

  • Data from the Child Welfare Information System (CWIS) is used to identify eligible youth based on age (17-21), eligibility for Chafee services and the region of the state in which they reside.

  • A second level review is conducted with Child Protection and Permanency staff to confirm the youth’s residence/location and to gather additional information about the youth to determine if the youth is appropriate to participate in the Young Adult Services Study (YASS).

  • Information regarding youth deemed eligible to participate in the Young Adult Services Study (YASS) is then sent to the Urban Institute evaluation team to be randomly assigned to either LifeSet or have them continue in or begin DCF services as usual.

  • CP&P caseworkers are notified if a youth on their caseload will receive a referral to LifeSet and the referral is created and sent by DCF to the appropriate LifeSet provider. The LifeSet provider then reaches out to the youth directly to engage them in LifeSet.

For more information check the Young Adult Services Study (YASS) FAQ.

Video Interviews with Participants

Click on the video images below to learn about the experience of youth participating in LifeSet.

Mariah's Story

Alex's Story 

Reagan's Story



Questions contact the:
Office of Adolescent Services
Phone: 609-888-7100