Since inception in 1998, First Place has grown from a grassroots project into a thriving community-based organization, providing support services to youth in six California counties: Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Solano, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles. First Place has built a solid and diverse fundraising plan in order to secure support from a mix of government, foundation, corporate, and individual contributors, allowing for the organization to sustain services and embark on its ambitious Strategic Plan for 2016-20.
Our work is driven toward the goal that My First Place is adopted and recognized by the federal government as a best-practice and preferred model for serving transition age foster youth. Other organizations and agencies will then utilize the My First Place model to provide high-quality, outcome-producing programming to youth across the nation. To achieve this end game, First Place remains focused on two key objectives: 1) Expand What Works, and 2) Demonstrate Effectiveness.
Expand What Works
During the development of the 2016-20 Strategic Plan Refresh, First Place explored the alternatives to scale and identified that the fastest and most effective path to government adoption of our model will be through the launch of an affiliate network comprised of independent 501(c)3 organizations.
• In Fiscal Year 2017, First Place will hire a Director of Strategic Initiative who will vet potential affiliate partners, and in 2018 we will hire a Director of Affiliate Network, who will oversee the Network.
• By 2020, First Place will partner with 3 affiliates nationally, serving an additional 225 youth annually. We will continue to grow the affiliate model, partnering with 8-10 affiliates in 7 states and Washington, D.C. We will invest in supporting the existing organizations to implement the MFP program model, using the organization’s pre-existing administrative infrastructure, and ultimately serve 500-650 youth annual at scale, via the affiliates.
Through an affiliate model, First Place can get to scale faster, impact more kids along the way, and it will cost the same as operating two wholly-owned expansion sites around the country. Through this approach, we will be able to more rapidly demonstrate the effectiveness of our model at a level of scale, reduce our financial burden, and be better positioned to pursue a national policy agenda.
First Place is also working to pursue the most rigorous evaluation possible in order to establish the My First Place program model as an evidence-based intervention. Building on a Formative Evaluation completed by Public/Private Ventures in June 2012, First Place designed a three-phased approach to evaluation, with the activities conducted in each phase supporting the subsequent phase. Phase 1, a Feasibility Assessment led by evaluation firm MDRC, began in September 2013 and was completed in early 2015. MDRC conducted an intensive document review of First Place’s programs, as well as an outcomes analysis, in order to help the organization make an informed decision about undertaking a summative evaluation and its potential design.
MDRC had two main findings: 1) The THP-Plus Foster Care environment is still evolving and not stable enough to be conductive to an evaluation at this time; and 2) Due to constraints, First Place would likely need to conduct a RCT only in Los Angeles and it would be nearly impossible to achieve the required sample size (at least 1,000 youth simultaneously). MDRC recommended that First Place continue to build program evidence by monitoring outcomes and strengthening connections with key stakeholders, thereby extending the evaluation timeline. In spring 2016, First Place began to develop a program manual and fidelity metrics in order to assess ongoing program fidelity. We anticipate that all six First Place program sites will achieve consistent implementation of the My First Place program model by December 2016.
• In January 2017, First Place will complete an Implementation Fidelity Assessment, monitoring and assessing program implementation in accordance with manual and fidelity metrics.
• In FY2018, First Place will conduct a quasi-experimental evaluation to determine program impact and effectiveness.