Supporting Healthy Adolescent Brain Development

Annie E. Casey Foundation Grant

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) are teaming up to incorporate the latest research from AECF’s report, "The Adolescent Brain: New Research and Its implications for Young People Transitioning from Foster Care," into training curriculum for Child Welfare workers. This report has prompted the development of a grant-based project, with the goal of improving the ability of Child Welfare workers, and social workers who work directly with this population, to increase their understanding of how to support healthy brain development in adolescents in the foster care system. 

This curriculum will take into consideration that many of these adolescents have experienced a great deal of trauma and have had many obstacles along the way, including multiple placements that result in school disruptions, a lack of connections to others, and having to deal with early parenthood. Based on the available research, we know that the adolescent brain is still developing into the 20s, and many of the everyday decisions that are being made by these teenagers tend to be emotionally based and impulsive, which is appropriate for this stage of development. However, adolescents in foster care do not always have a trusted adult or support system that can offer guidance through these critical and influential years.

NASW and the AECF have established an Advisory Committee to start working on a train-the-trainers (TOT) curriculum. Once completed, 25 Child Welfare workers will participate in pilot testing the curriculum-based training. Pre and post tests will be used to gather and analyze the feedback and finalize the curriculum. The projected target date for completion is November 30, 2019.  

For more information, please refer to the following resources:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation logo