Youth Leaving Foster Care

Youth Leaving Foster Care : A Developmental, Relationship-Based Approach to Practice

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Each year more than 25,000 youth age out of the American foster care system to face uncertain futures as young adults. Many of them have experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect, disrupted family relationships, and multiple foster care placements. The past two decades have seen increased funding and services in a society-wide attempt to mitigate the effects of such childhood adversity, but a consistent pattern of loss and broken attachments adds up. Development and education are severely compromised. A quarter of youth experience homelessness after exiting care; 25-50% will not complete high school, and only 3-6% will graduate college. Four years after leaving care, less than half are employed, and their earnings remain well below the poverty line. Rates of mental health disorders, early pregnancy and parenthood, and involvement in the criminal justice system are all heightened. Youth Leaving Foster Care is the first comprehensive text to focus on youth emerging from care, offering a new theoretical framework to guide programs, policies, and services. The book argues that understanding infant, child, and adolescent development; attachment experiences and disruptions; and the impacts of unresolved trauma and loss on development are critical to improving long-term outcomes. It provides an overview of the foster care context, detailed discussion of the effects of maltreatment on development from infancy through young adulthood, and common mental health problems and treatment recommendations. It includes a discussion of delinquency and the juvenile justice system, as well as issues facing pregnant and parenting youth, LGBT youth, and youth with disabilities. Presenting the best practices in transitional living programs and policy and research recommendations, this crucial guide also reviews and summarizes the latest research, which are enhanced with illustrative case vignettes. Each mental health and program chapter concludes with key practice principles reflecting the relationship-based approach. Presenting a multidimensional, integrated perspective that gives greater consideration to psychological and interpersonal needs, this vital guide offers an approach that will strengthen the capacity of youth leaving care to transition into successful adult lives.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 30.48mm | 566.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 5 line-cuts and 14 boxes
  • 0195375599
  • 9780195375596
  • 1,170,575

Review quote

"This book is an essential reading, a rare combination of theory, empirical research, in-depth empathic clinical understanding, and a wealth of practical policy and intervention insights. Indeed, this is what this growing area of research, policy formulation, and social intervention needs in order to address the needs of youth leaving care." --Rami Benbenishty, PhD, Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Israel "A fresh and important contribution to child welfare. For too long, child welfare has been guided by a thin theoretical base. Smith changes that with her thoughtful articulation of the theoretical foundations that explain youths' experience in care. A must-read for social workers and other professionals engaged in the lives of vulnerable young people." --Jill Duerr Berrick, PhD, Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley "Wendy Smith's book offers a tightly integrated treatment of wide-ranging but highly relevant practice and policy literature within a theory-based perspective. This work is up-to-date, richly detailed, and comprehensive in presentation. Undoubtedly, it will serve as an excellent resource to further the development of knowledge and practice related to youth leaving foster care." --Mary Elizabeth Collins, PhD, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Social Work "Youth Leaving Foster Care provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges young people aging out of foster care face and how their developmental paths affect their needs as they leave the foster care system. It will be an invaluable resource to students, advocates, and practitioners of child welfare on this important topic." --Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund "As a former prosecutor, I know that children in foster homes need the best of care but often there is not enough attention given to the next step. Dr. Wendy Smith has written so well about what should be done when they leave care. She is eminently qualified to do so and her book can make a difference in their lives." --Senator Patrick Leahy "Exhaustively researched, this book gives the reader a state-of-the-art understanding of children in care. Smith covers the waterfront, from brain science to attachment theory, evidence based practice, key treatment principles, and disproportional representation of ethnic minority children in care. She painstakingly reveals how our failed foster care system is the eye of the storm for significant social problems, including poverty, abuse, mental illness, substance use, homelessness, racism and homophobia. Smith's text is simply the most definitive discussion of the subject, and it behooves us to get it in the hands of every practitioner and policy maker immediately." --Jacqueline B. Mondros, DSW, Professor and Dean, Hunter College School of Social Work "This timely book brings together the latest in research about youth in foster care and foster care alumni with a biopsychological perspective that bolsters the theory base in this area and provides practice principles for effective services." --Peter J. Pecora, PhD, Managing Director of Research Services, Casey Family Programs and Professor, School of Social Work, University of Washington "Wendy Smith thoroughly explains the neurobiological and attachment underpinnings of the psychological problems of youth raised in foster care. Dr. Smith also gives a considered discussion of how to remediate current policy to reflect the needs of these children. I most highly recommend this groundbreaking book to clinicians, researchers, and policy makers. It should be required reading in all schools of social work." --Allan N. Schore, PhD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles "In Youth Leaving Foster Care: A Developmental, Relationship-Based Approach to Practice, author Wendy Smith draws from an impressive array of interdisciplinary literatures to propose practice principles for work with youth transitioning out of care. The book is a much welcomed and timely contribution... In sum, the important issues this text raises, as well as the literatures and theories from which it draws, are crucial and relevant to effective child welfare practice with youth and families affected by the child welfare system." -- Gina Miranda Samuels, University of Chicago, Social Service Reviewshow more

About Wendy B. Smith

Wendy B. Smith, PhD, is Director of Instructional Enhancement and Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work.show more

Table of contents

Introduction ; Part I. Setting the Stage ; Chapter 1. The Child Welfare System as Context ; Chapter 2. Theoretical Perspectives ; Part II. Development ; Chapter 3. Neurobiology and Development ; Chapter 4. The Importance of Early Attachments ; Chapter 5. Adolescent Development in Foster Care ; Part III. Mental Health ; Chapter 6. Anxiety, Trauma, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders ; Chapter 7. Mood Disorders and Self Harm ; Chapter 8. Substance Abuse ; Chapter 9. Mental Health Dimensions of Delinquency ; Part IV. Program Considerations ; Chapter 10. Populations Needing Special Attention ; Chapter 11. The Transition to Adulthood: Education, Employment, and Relationships ; Chapter 12. Transitional Living Programs: Best Practices ; Part V. Future Directions ; Chapter 13. Policy Implications and Directions for Future Researchshow more

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