Support Services for Youth in Transition: Identity Formation

Support Services for Youth in Transition: Identity Formation

The following resources offer ways to help transitioning youth develop a positive sense of self, including information on spirituality; cultural, racial, and ethnic identity; sexual and gender identity; self-esteem; and more.

Adolescent Development Explained  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health (2018)  Explores the developmental changes that occur during adolescence and focuses on five areas of change: physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and morals and values. For each of these areas, information is presented on normal development, ways adolescents experiences and express developmental changes, and how supportive adults can guide young people through developmental challenges. 

Bridging the Gap: How Child Welfare Can Work With Faith Communities to Support and Affirm LGBTQ+ Children, Youth, and Families Pendleton (2020) Center for the Study of Social Policy  Outlines how child welfare agencies should consider whether faith and spirituality is important to youth involved with the child welfare system, especially youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) to ensure they feel supported in all aspects of their identity. The article also discusses ways to support faith and spirituality through partnerships with faith communities and the development of resources for parents and caregivers. 

Developing Adolescent Identity  Williams (2018)  Center for Parent and Teen Communication Reviews adolescent development at various ages and summarizes the process of exploring youth identity, how parents and peers can support the process, why identity development can be challenging, and more. 

Developing a Positive Self-Concept in Foster Care Youth: 2016 Final Report Foster/Adoptive Parent Training Projects (2017)  Overviews the issue of low self-esteem for youth in foster care and explains how feeling worthwhile is necessary for youth to develop positive self-worth and succeed in life. The article discusses how to promote youth's self-esteem and includes suggestions for teenagers, such as how to help them reject negative thoughts and change negative self-talk.

Discovering Self: Identity and Culture  Annie E. Casey Foundation (2018)  Offers a guide to help youth and adult facilitators have conversations around identity development for young people who have been in the foster care system. 

Foster Youth Identity   SaintA (2018) Recaps a Twitter chat on identity for youth in foster care and discusses the importance of developing a sense of self for youth, influences on identity, identity challenges in out-of-home care, how to help youth in care connect to their culture, and more. 

How Can Child Welfare Agencies Effectively Support LGBTQ+ Youth in Care? Casey Family Programs (2019) Explores the topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) youth involved with the child welfare system and provides examples of best practices and programs working to support LGBTQ+ well-being and identity development. 

The Road to Adulthood: Aligning Child Welfare Practice With Adolescent Brain Development (PDF - 3,277 KB) Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative (2017) Presents the latest research in neuroscience and brain development and gives insights into how the brain's changes affect risk taking, emotional regulation, and the ability to connect socially and emotionally with others. This research has implications for child welfare and relates to older youth in foster care as well.

Supporting Cultural Identity for Children in Foster Care   Stafanson (2019)  Child Law Practice Today Examines how child welfare practitioners should work to support a strong cultural identity for children involved in the foster care system. The article provides case examples, study results, and examples of laws relating to cultural heritage activities for youth in foster care. 

These Tools Help Coach College Youth Aged Out of Foster Care to Develop Relationships  Unrau (2019)  Youth Today Shares tools to help supportive adults establish and build strong relationships with college youth who have been in the foster care system. The resource describes the Fostering Success Coaching model and discusses a three-step campus coaching interaction used in this model. 

What Young People Need to Thrive: Leveraging the Strengthening Families Act to Promote Normalcy  Annie E. Casey Foundation (2015)  Emphasizes the importance of typical experiences, or normalcy, to the healthy development of young people in foster care and provides suggestions for how child welfare agencies can leverage the Strengthening Families Act to create more supportive, normal environments for children and youth. 

Who I Am, Where I Belong, and Where I'm Going: Promoting Positive Identity Development for Youth in Connecticut Foster Care (PDF - 1,423 KB)  Luczak, Nelson, & Ruth (2018)  Connecticut Voices for Children  Examines identity development in youth in foster care and provides a literature review and discussion of policy, practice, and law related to supporting these youth as they build a sense of self. The report also includes recommendations for those working in the field of child welfare on how to better assess, strengthen, and support identity development in youth in foster care. 

Youth With Diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression in Child Welfare: A Review of Best Practices (PDF - 1,126 KB) Matarese, Greeno, & Betsinger (2017)  National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability ad Permanency for Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Two-Spirit Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ2S)  Offers a review of best practices, evidence-informed models, and evidence-based practices for supporting the gender identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning (LGBTQ+) youth in foster care.