Innovations in Mental Health for Youth and Families in Child Welfare 





Innovations in Mental Health for Youth and Families in Child Welfare 

By Binley Taylor


In this guest post, Binley Taylor, Director of System Change at FosterClub, a National Center partner, discusses innovations in mental health for youth and families in child welfare and how The National Center is working to make these necessary changes a reality.


The critical need for specialized mental health services  

Many young people and their families struggle with mental health challenges. For families navigating child welfare, this hurdle is amplified by complex developmental trauma and the additional struggle to find support that aligns with their specific circumstances. Too often in large systems like child welfare or mental health, youth and their families are ignored, and their lived experience is not considered when formulating a solution. This leads to decisions being made without their involvement and the introduction of services that are inadequate from the beginning. This exclusion often exacerbates the mental health challenges of the family, all of which have lasting effects on the familial ecosystem.  


Broadening the Understanding of and Access to Resources 

“One thing that would have changed my journey is a therapist who understood trauma, someone who could have guided me and helped my dad understand how to support me better,” reflects an individual who experienced foster care. Their reflection highlights the need for mental health interventions that are uniquely tailored to address the child welfare community. The National Center for Adoption Competent Mental Health Services (The National Center) is at the forefront of this effort, with a primary goal of providing states with the tools they need to better support vulnerable youth and families struggling with the impact of mental health. 


The Importance of Collaboration and Inclusion of Lived Experience Leaders

As part of its strategy, the Center incorporates the insights of youth with lived experience in child welfare beginning with the design of the model through roll-out and implementation. This approach ensures a deeper understanding of young people impacted by child welfare and creates a collaborative bridge between child welfare and mental health systems. This serves as the first and necessary step towards creating an inclusive system that authentically caters to the needs of youth and families involved in foster care. 

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