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March 2014Vol. 15, No. 3Investing in Youth Well-Being

The Foster Care Work Group—one of three work groups in the Youth Transition Funders Group, a network of grantmakers seeking to help all youth make a successful transition to adulthood by age 25—recently released a written agenda promoting increased investment in the well-being of children in or transitioning out of foster care. The investment agenda opens by noting that youth in the child welfare system often experience lower levels of social, emotional, and physical well-being than their peers; however, compared to the efforts that go into promoting safety and permanency for members of this population, relatively little attention is given to improving their well-being. The document seeks to increase awareness of this issue by leveraging and advancing emerging interest in well-being among the Federal Government, as well as within the research and advocacy communities.

An overview on the current status of well-being among older youth currently in or transitioning out of foster care is provided, followed by a new framework for viewing and assessing well-being within this population. Finally, the investment agenda provides a series of recommendations for public and private funders that are seeking to improve the social, emotional, and physical well-being of older youth transitioning out of foster care. These recommendations fall within the following five categories:

  • Improving, expanding, and sustaining innovative and evidence-based practice
  • Supporting policy and advocacy initiatives
  • Increasing community supports and opportunities
  • Investing across systems
  • Promoting research and evaluation

Recommendations are grounded in a positive youth development approach, taking into account an understanding of the developmental stage of emerging adulthood and incorporating a new understanding of adolescent brain development.

A Plan for Investing in the Social, Emotional and Physical Well-Being of Older Youth in Foster Care is available on the website for the Foster Care Work Group: (1 MB)