Brain Frames: Short Tools for Positive Interactions With Youth in Foster Care

Posted December 19, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog brainframesshorttools 2017

The Casey Foun­da­tion has devel­oped a new resource series, Brain Frames, to help those who influ­ence the lives of youth in fos­ter care — includ­ing child wel­fare prac­ti­tion­ers, par­ents, the legal com­mu­ni­ty, teach­ers, men­tors and oth­er car­ing adults — use the find­ings of ado­les­cent brain sci­ence to pro­mote healthy out­looks and behav­iors through their inter­ac­tions with young people.

Stem­ming from the Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Initiative’s com­pre­hen­sive report The Road to Adult­hood, Brain Frames con­sist of five print­able hand­outs that take a deep­er look at the rec­om­men­da­tions from the report, with quick bul­let points, fact box­es and sam­ple con­ver­sa­tions that are easy to use.

These rec­om­men­da­tions, orga­nized accord­ing to the Initiative’s focus areas and with an empha­sis on racial and eth­nic equi­ty and inclu­sion, include the following:

  1. Cul­ti­vate per­ma­nent fam­i­lies for young peo­ple. (Brain Frame: Keep­ing the Fam­i­ly Con­ver­sa­tion Alive)
  2. Help young peo­ple under­stand their expe­ri­ences, espe­cial­ly through the lens­es of racism and trau­ma, and devel­op effec­tive strate­gies for heal­ing and growth. (Brain Frame: Heal­ing Comes First)
  3. Pro­mote col­lege and career path­ways. (Brain Frame: Suc­cess­ful Con­nec­tions to School and Work)
  4. Ensure ade­quate and safe hous­ing for youth while also encour­ag­ing their per­son­al choic­es. (Brain Frame: Pro­mot­ing Safe and Sta­ble Hous­ing for Young Peo­ple)
  5. Sup­port young par­ents’ progress toward self-suf­fi­cien­cy and healthy lifestyles and rela­tion­ships. (Brain Frame: Sup­port­ing Young Par­ents)

Pre­vail­ing wis­dom used to be that all the major strides in brain growth took place in ear­ly child­hood — that by the time ado­les­cence came along, neur­al con­nec­tions had already been deter­mined. Par­tic­u­lar­ly for kids in fos­ter care, this belief could close off a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties,” says San­dra Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez, direc­tor of the Foun­da­tion’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive. Know­ing the sci­ence behind brain devel­op­ment reopens those doors and allows us to make sure that every inter­ac­tion we have with a young per­son fuels the brain’s incred­i­ble capac­i­ty for growth dur­ing this peri­od. There is so much more we can do to sup­port young people.”

Each Brain Frame can be down­loaded and print­ed as a two-sided 11x17-inch place­mat for use in train­ings or for quick reference.

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