Corey Shdaimah and Lucy Zhao Published in Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

Corey Shdaimah, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice and MSW/MPH student Lucy Zhao have a new article published in Children and Adolescent Social Work Journal. They report on data from an interview study with young adults exiting or recently exited foster care in Maryland (N=15) designed to understand what facilitates engagement with courts. Their findings indicate that despite challenges of "being in foster care", youth found ways to pursue their goals and make their voices heard through developing stable relationships with supportive adults (including judges, caseworkers, or lawyers) and demanding that child welfare professionals "speak to me not at me." Youth indicated that their needs, capabilities, and goals changed as they matured and as their circumstances changed. Such changes helped them find their voices but also created tensions within their child welfare system interactions. This led us to develop the theory of adaptive responsivity, according to which child welfare stakeholders should respond appropriately to developmental and circumstantial changes to help child-welfare involved youth face difficult circumstances and thrive. Such responses include providing developmentally and situationally appropriate information and decision-making power to youth in their own cases as well as opportunities to weigh in on systems change.

The article citation is: Shdaimah, C. & Zhao, L. (2022). Adaptive responsivity: A youth-driven model for thriving in foster care. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal,

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