Federal and state foster-care programs were developed decades before modern science on adolescent development, and a new report by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative argues that the programs do not incorporate the implications of brain research when planning transitions for students leaving the system.
"Young people do not move seamlessly from adolescence to full-fledged adulthood at 18," said Gary Stangler, executive director of the St. Louis, Mo.-based initiative, in a statement on the report. "As a nation, we need to pay attention to that if we are to change the poor outcomes that many young adults leaving foster care experience."
The report found that nearly one in four students enter the foster care system at age 14 or older, and the majority "age out" of the system at age 18, but current programs do not require services to be based on current research on adolescent development. In particular, the report finds that many students who age out of foster care leave without the opportunity to build supportive adult relationships, including with school and college educators, to ease the transition.
Researchers from the initiative and the Washington-based Center for the Study of Social Policy will hold a symposium on the study at 11 a.m. on Monday at the Reserve Officers Association on Capitol Hill. You can read a summary of The Adolescent Brain - Final Paper here.