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Report: Brain Science Can Help Foster Children Thrive

Fewer than 1 in 6 foster children graduate from high school and 3 percent make it to college. (
Fewer than 1 in 6 foster children graduate from high school and 3 percent make it to college. (
December 18, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Recommendations on how to treat children in foster care are part of a report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report, "The Road to Adulthood," takes a look at ways caregivers and foster care professionals can improve care for these children based on their developing brains.

Brent Kent is president and CEO of Indiana Connected by 25, a nonprofit group that works with foster youths that are aging out of the system.

He says these young people have had different life experiences than many of their peers, and some have missed out on some of the things they would have learned in a more traditional family setting.

"Observing the 'bank of Mom and Dad,' managing money, having allowance, making decisions, making mistakes,” he explains. “So for them especially, leaving the foster care system is full of risks because they haven't had the opportunities that other teens have to sort of learn and grow. "

Kent says only about 6 in10 foster children graduate high school, and fewer than 3 percent get a college degree.

He adds about one in five will be homeless within two years of leaving foster care.

The Casey Foundation report offers those who work with foster youth ways to help them based on brain science.

Alexandra Lohrbach, a program associate with the Case Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, says caretakers and professionals who understand how the adolescent brain works play a key role in helping children 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," she states.

Indiana has about 23,000 children in foster care and roughly 250 age out each year.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN