The LifeSet program is operated by Youth Villages, a private nonprofit organization. Formerly known as Transitional Living, LifeSet provides at-risk youth and young adults leaving foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health systems with the intensive in-home support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adulthood. The core of the program is a therapeutic case management relationship between participant youth and “LifeSet specialists,” who work with youth to develop and move towards youth-defined goals in multiple domains of independent living including education, housing, employment and financial security, health and safety, and social connections and support. Youth Villages is currently operating in seven states in the US—Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Tennessee—and the organization trains and supports nonprofit partners to offer LifeSet in other communities in six additional states. The CWEST project is evaluating LifeSet in New Jersey, which will be delivered by four local providers in the state.
When a young person enters the LifeSet program, the LifeSet specialist works with the youth to develop an individualized plan based on the youth’s personal context and goals. After the initial assessment, the youth and the LifeSet specialist meet at least weekly for one-hour, face-to-face or virtual sessions. During these sessions, the LifeSet specialist provides clinically focused case management, support, and counseling aimed at helping the youth move towards his or her goals. These meetings occur in a community setting, either at the youth’s home, work, or at whatever other location is most comfortable and convenient for him or her. In addition to these regular, scheduled meetings, LifeSet assures that youth are able to get in touch with a LifeSet specialist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The maximum duration youth can receive LifeSet services in New Jersey is 12 months.
LifeSet specialists work with between eight and ten youth at any one time and have either a master’s degree in a relevant field, or a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience. Team supervisors supervise four LifeSet staff, including conducting group supervision, individual and field supervision, and professional development, and have a master’s degree in a relevant field, or a bachelor’s degree with relevant work experience. Licensed Program Experts are responsible for ensuring model fidelity and ideally have LifeSet implementation experience at the specialist and supervisor level and hold a master’s degree and professional license in a social service field. Licensed Program Experts meet regularly with each LifeSet team to provide clinical supervision and guidance on the program model.