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The Road to Adulthood: Aligning Child Welfare Practice With Adolescent Brain Development.

Publication Year: 
Corporate Author: 
Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Final Report
Page Count: 

This paper offers recommendations for child welfare professionals, caregivers, and systems to use research findings on the adolescent brain and the impact of trauma to work effectively with youth in or emerging from foster care in the four focus areas of the Jim Casey Initiative’s work: permanency, educational attainment and economic security, stable housing, and supports for young parents. It begins by reviewing the latest research on adolescent brain development and overall strategies for helping young people respond to trauma. Recommendations are then made for promoting development in the four focus areas. Recommendations include: train and equip practitioners to understand the role of trauma and racism, and employ effective practices to help young people understand their experiences and develop effective strategies for healing and growth; prioritize legal permanency for all youth; understand that foster care carries a level of stigma, affecting successful educational outcomes and opportunities for employment, and promote a range of career pathways, from student leadership opportunities to community service, job shadowing, and internships, and build connections with guidance counselors and coaches to create on-ramps to college and a career; build connections with local housing providers to ensure adequate and safe housing for youth while encouraging youth choice and voice; and understand that young parents and their children are both in important stages of their brain development and support practitioners in helping young parents continue to make progress toward their educational and employment goals, build self-sufficiency, maintain healthy relationships, and be the primary nurturers of their children. Promising practices in different States are highlighted. 50 references.

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