WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has developed training resources that will give child welfare workers, social workers, foster parents, and others who work with older youth critical information about how the adolescent brain develops.
The knowledge professionals acquire through NASW’s Integrating Adolescent Brain Development into Child Welfare Practice with Older Youth curriculum will help older youth – especially those in foster care or involved in the child welfare system – obtain the skills they need to overcome past trauma and become successful adults.
“Many people do not realize that the brains of youth continue to develop until they are in their mid-twenties. Using this knowledge can create opportunities for positive youth development and acquisition of new skills, decreasing impulsive behavior or poor life decisions,” said Joan Levy Zlotnik, PhD, ACSW, Director Emerita NASW Social Work Policy Institute.
Each year more than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system in the United States. Many have missed the opportunity to have stable schooling, friendships, and/or lack family support. Odds are higher, they will become incarcerated, single parents, drop out of college or have trouble finding stable jobs and housing.
The curriculum was created in keeping with the Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s commitment to “Train and equip practitioners to understand the role of trauma and racism, and employ effective practices to help young people understand their experiences and develop effective strategies for healing and growth.”
However, the training will have a much wider impact. It can be a resource for professionals who provide mental health and health care services to adolescents; those who work in schools or juvenile justice facilities; and social work faculty who are training new generations of social workers to work with older youth.
“The period of brain development in adolescents provides a critical opportunity to help young people grow through learning experiences and heal from trauma they may have experienced,” Zlotnik said. “That is why this curriculum and the accompanying resources are so important and we hope is shared as widely as possible.”
To learn more about adolescent brain development, join the NASW Integrating Adolescent Brain Development webinar on August 25 at 2 p.m. ET or on demand or visit the curriculum website for more information.