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"We cannot always  
build the future for our youth, but  
we can build our youth for the future."

Franklin D. Roosevelt



RESOURCES:

Here at Foster Skills, we are realist and idealist. We value empirical research, and we believe in data. We want to help improve outcomes, and we hope that you will help us. Our founder, spent 100+ consecutive hours putting together the All Things Foster Care (.pdf), and we hope that you'll review it to learn more about foster care, figure out where the gaps in the current research exist, and what you can do to help! Below are some additional readings.

- The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Youth Initiative, in it's report,  The Adolescent Brain: New Research and Its Implications for Young People Transitioning from Foster Care outlines a series of proposals to improve the system for foster care alumni, with the goal of establishing a solid network of support by age 25.

- CheckOut;  In Brief: Foster Care - 5 Things Lawmakers Need to Know.Here are five things-all based on programs that have been tried successfully-lawmakers need to know to help build a strong child welfare system and continue to reduce the number of children in foster care safely.

- Casey Families produced:  Improving Outcomes for older youth in foster care. This white paper begins by suggesting a redefinition of this population and a discussion of the desired outcomes for them. It then provides a snapshot of the outcomes for youth who do, in fact, age out of foster care, followed by a brief description of current federal and state policies designed to meet their needs. The paper concludes with recommendations for federal policies to improve the outcomes of older youth who are in care or transitioning out of care.

- The Social for Research in Child Development produced:  The Difficult Transition to Adulthood for Foster Youth in the US: Implications for the State as Corporate Parent. In this issue of the Social Policy Report, Mark Courtney, University of Washington, describes the situation of children in foster care as they age out of care and make the transition to adult independent living. As he points out, this is a small but very needy population, and as a result, it has received quite a bit of policy attention. Dr. Courtney mentions, for example, that the Social Security Act has been amended three times to address foster children's transition to adulthood.

- The American Bar produced:  Beyond the Foster Care System: The Future for Teens. Why do teens in foster care need this kind of outside advice? Foster care teens interact with dozens of caseworkers, mental health professionals, foster parents, childcare staff, lawyers, judges, and miscellaneous supervisors and administrators involved with their cases while they are in the system. However, they still need outside advice because even when they do establish close and important relationships in the foster care system, they always wonder: "Am I only getting help because it's their job, not because of my talents or who I am." Further, teens recognize that relationships with these helping professionals are temporary-- despite their dedication and benevolence, more likely than not, either they or the teens will soon move on. This uncertainty makes teens unable to fully believe in or utilize the help from foster care professionals.

- Child Trends produced:  Foster Youth Aging Out. Various strategies may be effective in reducing the number of young adults aging out of foster care, including ensuring that every child born in America is a "wanted" child, improving the home environments of children at risk of abuse and neglect, and accelerating the permanent placement of foster children when it is clear that their home environments pose too great a risk for them to return. And various approaches are being taken to help these vulnerable young people as they must navigate the waters of early adulthood largely on their own. Some of these approaches appear promising, but rigorous research is needed to confirm that what we think may work does, in fact, help this vulnerable population.

- Fostering Media Connections produced:  Fostering Media Connections: Massachusetts.

o Youths in foster care are two times more likely to fail the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and three times more likely to receive special education services than their peers.

o Fifty-two percent of students who were ever in foster care read below grade level, compared to 38% of the overall population.

o Depending on the academic content, 10 to 17 percent of foster youth fail courses. Other students earn twice as many "A's" in their classes than foster children.

o Almost 40 percent of former foster youth have repeated one or more grades.

As a starting point for more information, please review this Child Welfare Information Gateway or The United Department of Healthy and Human Services, Administration of Children & Families.


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