Youth served by the child welfare system have unique needs as they navigate adolescence, grow into their identities, and approach adulthood. Youth must be respected as experts on themselves and treated as equal partners throughout case planning, permanency planning, and other child welfare activities.

Connection to family and other trusted adults is crucial during adolescence. Youth need support forming and maintaining these relationships while in foster care to support the development of authentic connections that last long into adulthood. It is also important that they have support in maintaining connections to their cultures and communities. This social and community support can serve as a protective factor to mitigate the trauma of child welfare involvement.

Regardless of a young person’s individual journey to permanency, all youth need concrete, holistic supports as they grow up. However, youth may receive disparate services depending on age, racial and cultural background, and other factors. Equitable access to services and programs—including life skills classes, education and employment assistance, financial aid, and peer and mentor support—is essential for youth to thrive.

Explore this page to learn about youth engagement, development, outcomes, and more. 

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