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Report: Applying Brain Research Can Help Foster Children Succeed

Doing chores is a typical piece of childhood learning many foster kids may not have experienced. (anitapeppers/morguefile)
Doing chores is a typical piece of childhood learning many foster kids may not have experienced. (anitapeppers/morguefile)
January 9, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – While many discussions of the needs of foster children often focus on the very young, a new report looks at what adolescents in the system need to thrive.

The Road to Adulthood report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation takes a look at ways caregivers and foster-care professionals can improve care for these kids based on their developing brains.

Dr. Jeanette Scheid is a medical consultant with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and she says these young people have had very different life experiences than many of their peers, and many have missed out on some of the things they would have learned in a more traditional family setting.

"Those kinds of average pathways haven't occurred for the kids that we serve, so we really need to be mindful of thinking through all of the different services and supports and to do them more formally," she explains.

The report emphasizes that adolescents need access to opportunities if they are to continue to grow and develop into productive adults.

Alexandra Lohrbach, program associate with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative at the foundation, says the more caretakers and professionals understand how the adolescent brain works, the better equipped they are to help kids successfully 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," says Lohrbach.

Michigan currently has about 13,000 kids in foster care.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI