This brief highlights the importance of typical experiences, or normalcy, to the overall healthy development of young people in foster care: how young people view normalcy and foster care — what they wish for, the barriers they face and their recommendations; suggestions for how to leverage the Strengthening Families Act for significant improvements in child welfare systems, creating a more supportive and normal environment for all young people; and strategies from the field that can serve as examples.
Peer relationships are one of the most important and normal relationships that an adolescent can have.
Barriers to normalcy identified by foster youth include the lack of decision-making opportunities, heightened scrutiny, lack of funds and transportation, and the stigma of foster care.
Being a normal adolescent means trying out new things and sometimes making mistakes. A key to healthy adolescent development is experimentation with friends and testing boundaries.
More than four out of 10 children in group placements have no mental health diagnosis, medical disability or behavioral problem that might warrant such a restrictive setting.
Under the Strengthening Families Act, foster youth ages 14 and older are able to select up to two individuals who are not a foster parent or caseworker to be a part of their case planning team.
Statements & Quotations
I felt normal the day I was in my foster home and my foster parent came to me and said that I am now a part of their family and I could call her mom and I am now her son. Everything else didn't matter. She treated me as if I was her own son by taking me out to eat and buying me nice things and spending quality time with me and even introducing me to people as her son. It felt so good to feel wanted.
One of my foster moms had adult children with kids. After multiple months of living with this foster mom, one of her kids called me and asked me to babysit her two girls and said she’d pay me. I could hardly believe it. That’s the moment where I really felt connected to the family, because of the obvious trust and that I was thought of first before anyone else.
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