This week, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) announced the winners of its national search to identify initiatives making a critical difference in the lives of youth who are in foster care or involved with child welfare systems. Ackerman’s Personal Best for Teens Program, lead by faculty member Judy Grossman, has been selected as one of the 15 exemplary initiatives doing innovative work to help youth thrive.
Judy Grossman’s team - Martha Edwards, Sabina Fila, Chris Reynolds and Brenda Nikelsberg - have been active collaborators as they adapted the original Personal Best curriculum for pregnant and parenting youth in foster care.
The selection process included 130 nominees, involved proposal review, telephone interview, and site visits at Ackerman and community agencies to meet with key stakeholders and observe group sessions with youth.
"These 15 programs represent organizations and agencies that are achieving outcomes that are improving the well-being of vulnerable youth by understanding their unique challenges, creating opportunities and sticking with them, no matter what," said Susan Notkin, associate director at CSSP.
Without effective intervention, research shows that many young people in the child welfare system will face serious problems as they transition to adulthood - higher rates of school failure, unemployment, teen pregnancy, homelessness and delinquency - than more advantaged peers. CSSP evaluated approaches that addressed developing five factors in young people (age 11-26) that help mitigate or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being.
Research about what makes these programs successful will be used to help influence program and public policy change across the country. The programs selected demonstrate a wide range of strategies that engage youth and support them to succeed in school and employment, develop social and emotional supports and have lasting, positive connections to family and community.