Works Wonders Research Project: 2011-2016

Works Wonders was launched in 2011 as a research project through a collaborative agreement with Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. One of only four grants awarded in the country for this funding stream, Foster Forward and its partners, Rhode Island College and the Workplace Center at Columbia University School of Social Work, developed and tested a series of intervention steps aimed at building relational competency for youth in the foster care system with the proposed long-term outcome of seeing youth meaningfully connect to and sustain connections with the world of work. Foster Forward and its partner's, using evidence based research from the field and expertise feedback and guidance from the youth we serve in foster care, built and tested the model, going live with the implementation in April 2013. Between April 2013 - March 2016. Foster Forward provided the intervention to 180+ youth ages 14-21 who were in and have aged out of foster care in Rhode Island. The research component ended in March of 2016 and since then Foster Forward has been able to leverage private and state dollars to open the program up to youth in need. 

A key component of the project is an evaluation to assess the implementation feasibility of the service intervention (E2 Club and Employment Specialists) and demonstrate the impact of the service intervention on young adults’ employment status and well-being. While final evaluation results are still pending, preliminary data are showing that Works Wonders was successful increasing youth employment, improving youth career readiness, increasing youth self-determination and self-efficacy, and having a major impact on preparing young adults in care for careers. Evaluation results will be posted here when finalized. 

Independent Evaluation Approach: 

The Works Wonders Initiative began as a Randomized Control Trial, but was changed to a formative evaluation in 2014. The formative evaluation uses pre-determined benchmarks to evaluate feasibility and impact given that the design does not include comparison groups.  Benchmarks were derived from the conceptual framework, the current evidence base and practice experience that ensures calibration to the Rhode Island context.

The goals of the evaluation are to:

  • Understand the population served. 
  • Determine the service components that maximize service outcomes. 
  • Demonstrate the impact of the services on young adults’ self-determination.


Evaluation Materials:

  • A copy of the revised logic model used during the formative evaluation process can be found here
  • For the conceptual model used during the research project, click here


Works Wonders got its start in 2011 as a research project funded by the Children's Bureau. These resources were developed during the implementation phase (2013-2016) of the project to help raise awareness with youth, community providers, employers, and the funding community. 




If you would like to learn more about the Works Wonders research project or to discuss whether the Works Wonders model is right for your jurisdiction, contact Kat Keenan at 401-438-3900 ext. 106. 


The Works Wonders Research Project was funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, Grant #90CW1141/01   



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