Keeping the Family Conversation Alive: Supporting Permanence Among Youth in Foster Care

Posted January 25, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Brain Frames handouts help support positive conversations with youth people from foster care.

Fam­i­ly plays a key and endur­ing role in a young person’s devel­op­ment, accord­ing to research. Par­ents and care­givers help ado­les­cents grad­u­al­ly learn inde­pen­dence with­in healthy bound­aries, and fam­i­ly mem­bers serve as role mod­els for young adults nav­i­gat­ing every­thing from the pro­fes­sion­al work­place to par­ent­ing duties.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive rec­og­nizes the unde­ni­able and out­sized impact of fam­i­ly on a child’s devel­op­ment. Accord­ing­ly, the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive — which is ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing young peo­ple emerge from fos­ter care with the sup­port need­ed to thrive as adults — is focused on pro­mot­ing permanence.

A new hand­out, Keep­ing the Fam­i­ly Con­ver­sa­tion Alive, shares rec­om­men­da­tions for pro­mot­ing per­ma­nence, which is a legal con­nec­tion to a per­ma­nent fam­i­ly. This advice uti­lizes the lat­est research on ado­les­cent brain devel­op­ment and applies even to young peo­ple who may have giv­en up on the idea of legal­ly join­ing a family.

Keep­ing the Fam­i­ly Con­ver­sa­tion Alive is part of a larg­er resource series, called Brain Frames, which the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive cre­at­ed for car­ing adults who reg­u­lar­ly inter­act with youth in fos­ter care. The series con­sists of five print­able hand­outs based on a com­pre­hen­sive report, The Road to Adult­hood, which offers a blue­print for align­ing child wel­fare prac­tices with the sci­ence of brain devel­op­ment dur­ing a crit­i­cal time­frame — ado­les­cence through the mid-20s.

The research shows that, for ado­les­cents, healthy brain devel­op­ment depends on expe­ri­ences,” says San­dra Gas­ca-Gon­za­lez, direc­tor of the Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive. The expe­ri­ence of being part of a sta­ble and sup­port­ive fam­i­ly is inte­gral to young people’s abil­i­ty to devel­op self-con­fi­dence, trust in oth­ers and crit­i­cal-think­ing skills.”

Com­pared to their peers, young peo­ple who exit fos­ter care with­out fam­i­ly ties are more like­ly to expe­ri­ence unin­tend­ed preg­nan­cy as well as poor out­comes relat­ed to employ­ment, hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, and involve­ment with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. This issue has fur­ther impli­ca­tions when viewed through a lens of racial equi­ty. African-Amer­i­can and Lati­no youth are more like­ly than white youth to be placed in group fos­ter care facil­i­ties — a set­ting that can severe­ly lim­it their expo­sure to poten­tial­ly per­ma­nent families.

The good news is that these out­comes can change. By active­ly sup­port­ing per­ma­nent fam­i­lies — even for old­er youth aging out of fos­ter care — car­ing adults can help young peo­ple form attach­ments that lead to feel­ings of inter­de­pen­dence, secu­ri­ty and per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty, which are the build­ing blocks of healthy adulthood.

Down­load and print copies of Keep­ing the Fam­i­ly Con­ver­sa­tion Alive

Read and print more Brain Frames

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families