Importance of Normalcy for Foster Youth

A critical aspect of healthy development for any youth is a sense of normalcy. The Jim Casey Youth Opportunity Initiative recently released a report addressing this issue in more detail with input from youth. The youth define normalcy as not being singled out from other teens and not having to go through extra obstacles to participate in the same activities as their peers.

The report identifies barriers to ensuring normalcy for foster youth including things like having to get background checks on a coach or their friend’s family members in order to have a sleepover. Even youth in legal guardianship are often prevented from accompanying their guardian on family trips and other activities.

“I did not want to ask my coaches and teammates’ parents if they would have a background check done. It was humiliating and I lost out on so many experiences I could have had during my teenage years.”

The report recommends several policy changes in order to promote a foster youth’s sense of normalcy including things like including, fully implementing the Strengthening Families Act, which calls for inclusion of foster youth in case planning, restrictions on APPLA for youth under 16 and implementation of the reasonable and prudent parent standard allowing caregivers to make more decisions for youth in their care. The full implementation of the reasonable and prudent parent standard in particular would help ensure that foster youth have the opportunity to participate in more age-appropriate experiences while they are growing up, and would empower foster parents to allow their children to participate in typical activities. These experiences are critical to the development of youth as they transition into adulthood.