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Responding to the Needs of Adolescent Girls in Foster Care

NCJ Number
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: Winter 2013 Pages: 321-349
Karen Baynes-Dunning; Karen Worthington
Date Published
29 pages
This article discusses the child welfare system's response to addressing the needs of adolescent girls in foster care.
Research has shown that girls and boys experience different kinds of trauma and that they are affected differently by these experiences. This article discusses the need for child welfare systems' to address these needs, especially for adolescent girls in foster care. The article provides an overview of the current situation, highlighting the lack of gender-specific responses to meeting the needs of boys and girls involved with the child welfare system. What is currently known is that girls have special needs resulting from their life situations, and that these needs are often overlooked as child welfare systems struggle to meet the basic needs of keeping children safe. The article discusses the specific risks facing adolescent girls, and what needs to be done in order to mitigate these risks. Development of a gender-responsive, trauma-informed response to adolescent girls involved in the child welfare system is required in order to meet the specific needs of these girls. The article discusses the design and development of such a response. The article presents information on the elements of gender-responsive programming, the elements of trauma-informed care, foundational elements of gender-responsive, trauma-informed care, and practical approaches to meeting the needs of girls involved with the child welfare system. These practical approaches include promoting positive relationships, providing comprehensive, gender-specific screening and health care, understanding and reducing system-induced trauma, and supporting pregnant and parenting girls.