PNS Daily Newscast - July 9, 2020 

VP Pence backs Trump on getting kids back to school as U.S. coronavirus cases top 3 million; PA state lawmakers call for a "just" economic recovery.

2020Talks - July 9, 2020 

The Green Party nominating convention begins today. The Supreme Court makes its final rulings this week; today, the case is whether Trump's tax returns will be released.

New Brain Research Can Help NM Foster Kids Become Successful Adults

New science shows young people's brains are able to heal after trauma, meaning no child is a lost cause. (
New science shows young people's brains are able to heal after trauma, meaning no child is a lost cause. (
December 7, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Improved science on adolescent brain development shows there are new ways to help the more-than 2,300 children in New Mexico's foster care system become successful adults.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report, "The Road to Adulthood," offers recommendations on how to treat kids in foster care based on their developing brains. Ezra Spitzer, executive director at New Mexico CAN, said science now shows the developing adolescent brain can heal from trauma more than previously thought.

"When a young person enters foster care, so many of their connections are broken,” Spitzer said. "They often change schools, they obviously are pulled out of their homes, they likely lose relationships with extended family or friends they had in that school, so it's not only about that they suffered some trauma; they also are experiencing loss."

The report offers caregivers and professionals in the foster care system more concrete recommendations based on brain science that can help kids thrive.

Spitzer said those recommendations are important, because foster kids often experience a double whammy when it comes to trauma.

"The problem is when they age out of care, they go through that whole process all over again,” she said. "The counselor they used to see, now doesn't see adults; the case worker they had goes away; the judge they saw goes away. So all of that is sort of the retraumitization of the system."

Statistics show that every time a student changes schools, their chances of graduating drops by 10 percent. And that's why a responsive support system is so important.

Alexandra Lohrbach, program associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said caretakers and professionals who understand the adolescent brain are critical in helping kids transition out of foster care.

"Things such as getting a job, maintaining meaningful relationships, things even like learning to drive and managing money - skills and experiences that are all necessary to thrive into adulthood,” Lohrbach said.

She said the new science on the recovery ability of the adolescent brain confirms that no child is a lost cause.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM