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click for larger viewThis multi-year initiative examines how foster youth can be supported in ways that advance healthy development and well-being and reduce the impact of negative life experiences.

Not surprisingly, vulnerable youth encounter more challenges to reaching a healthy and satisfying adulthood than their more advantaged counterparts. Exposure to violence and maltreatment, lack of consistent or nurturing relationships and involvement in public systems such as foster care or juvenile justice all entail significant and potentially life-altering impacts on the positive transition to adulthood.

New research suggests that traumatic effects on brain development may play more of a role than previously understood in causing negative outcomes for youth. Established research on how to promote positive youth development and help youth grow into mature, successful adults; combined with insights from emerging research in neuroscience and brain development, provide an opportunity for fresh thinking on improved adult outcomes for at-risk youth. Over the last decade, there has been a growing conviction in communities, child welfare and other child-serving fields as to the importance for practitioners addressing not only risk factors that jeopardize a child’s prospects for a secure life (for example, family violence) but also protective factors (for example, good pre-natal health) that round out the intervention picture.

Youth Thrive Goal #1

To give child welfare agencies and their partners a way to translate the federal mandate for child well-being into actions that will secure the healthy development of youth in foster care. CSSP has examined the research knowledge base to identify protective and promotive factors that build healthy development and well-being for youth as they move through adolescence into adulthood. The synthesis of the research and the Youth Thrive Protective and Promotive Factors Framework will be shared with the field, and hopefully used to fashion policies, programs and interventions that promote health and well-being. CSSP anticipates creating tools and trainings for practitioners working with at-risk youth,parents, foster parents and relatives caring for youth, group homes and other facilities and child welfare agencies.

Youth Thrive Goal #2

To disseminate this information to parents, caregivers, families and communities so that they will better understand how they - in their respective roles - can prioritize healthy development for young people to grow into successful, productive and caring members of society.   

CSSP believes Youth Thrive will help yield a greater alignment of knowledge, principles of support and policy and practice in the field. Ultimately, the hope is that the developmental needs of young people involved in the child welfare system will be better attended to, and that these youth will receive the supports and experiences necessary to ensure enhanced opportunities for productive and secure lives.


Building the Youth Thrive Framework in Jurisdictions

Building-the-Youth-Thrive-Famework-in-Jurisdictions-August-2015The purpose of launching and sustaining the Youth Thrive approach, working with public agencies and in jurisdictions is to proactively build vulnerable youths’ well-being (cognitive, emotional, physical, social and spiritual) in the communities with which we partner. The Youth Thrive framework can be applied to all adolescents and young adults ages 9-26. Currently, Youth Thrive is focusing on youth involved in the child welfare system, and going forward, may also work with juvenile justice, mental health and other youth- and family-serving systems.
The expectation is that jurisdictions adopting the Youth Thrive approach will create a climate that is conducive to making change and taking actions that build protective and promotive factors and expand opportunities for youth and their families. Public agencies will use the Youth Thrive framework to align policies, practices and operations and will apply the latest evidence-informed research and innovative practice strategies to their work with young people, professionals, practitioners, parents, other caregivers, community leaders and other stakeholders. Click to read more.

Join the Youth Thrive Learning Community

Join Our New Learning Community

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is inviting jurisdictions to join its newly established Youth Thrive™ Learning Community. CSSP seeks to identify five sites to implement strategies and changes in policy and practices that reflect the Youth Thrive™ framework with the goal of improving the well-being outcomes for youth involved in the child welfare system. CSSP is particularly interested in jurisdictions committed to applying the Youth Thrive™ framework for serving youth who are also involved in juvenile justice or mental health systems. SUBMISSION DEADLINE: OCTOBER 21, 2015

Download instructions and form    OR  Complete an online application.

Click here for questions and answers from our informational webinar.

Stay Informed


Read more about these factors that mitigate risk and enhance healthy development and well-being for youth:

Youth Thrive Exemplary Initiatives & Expert Panel
CSSP conducted a national search to identify and recognize 15 exemplary initiatives that use the Youth Thrive protective and promotive factors to reduce risks and enhance healthy development for youth in foster care or who are involved in the child welfare system.  A panel of national experts with extensive experience in adolescent development, child welfare, training, philanthropy, research, mental health and other services to provided input and advice to CSSP on the overall search process.

Youth Thrive brochure

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