When young people have faced difficult life circumstances — like involvement in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems — and they reflect on what helped them change their lives for the better, a strong bond with a frontline worker often plays a prominent part in their story.
On Jan. 23, 2018, the Annie E. Casey Foundation hosted a webinar to explore these transformational relationships and the benefits that youth seeking educational and employment opportunities can gain from them. Representatives from both the Center for the Study of Social Policy and New Paradigms Consulting participated in the session.
Watch the webinar
The engaging conversation focused on a seven-page brief, “Transformational Relationships for Youth Success,” that offers lessons culled from more than 80 interviews with organizations, their workers and the young people they support.
Read the brief
During the session, participants identified five important ways that staff in youth-serving organizations and systems can help foster transformational relationships. These are:
- putting relationships at the heart of their practice;
- hiring workers who are optimistic, mature and display a high capacity to relate;
- offering concrete help with such issues as jobs and school;
- helping workers prepare for difficult periods in a relationship; and
- interacting with workers in ways that model how to relate to young people.
“When youth experience these bonds,” says Steve Cohen, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy and one of the brief’s authors, “they begin to see that they matter, that things can be different for them and that their own actions can lead to a brighter future. That said, transformational relationships can’t substitute for the critical opportunities we know all young people need — a safe and stable home, education or a job.”
The webinar was one of several the Foundation will host with its Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential (LEAP) network this year. The sessions are designed to share best practices that can help young people get on a pathway to opportunity after experiencing homelessness or involvement with the juvenile justice or child welfare systems.
Learn more about developing positive interactions with youth in foster care