January 2016

Letting Kids Be Kids: Promoting Normalcy for Connecticut’s Youth in Foster Care

Bianca Rey and Cyd Oppenheimer, J.D.

Engaging in the everyday activities of childhood and adolescence is essential to the maturing process for youth. Increasingly, there is consensus in the field of child welfare that the broader goal for youth in care should be to achieve some degree of “normalcy;” that is, that these youth should have the same, regular opportunities for age-appropriate social, emotional and developmental growth as youth not in out-of-home care. Social, extracurricular, and work activities are not only important for youth in care to avoid being isolated from their peers and community, but also to learn to manage the increasing responsibilities and independence of growing up. These experiences allow youth to explore their interests, learn new skills, and build relationships in their communities, all of which are essential to prepare them for the transition to adulthood.

This paper:

  • evaluates the normalcy requirements of the Strengthening Families Act and Connecticut Public Act 15-199;
  • examines current policies and practices in Connecticut;
  • considers implementation of normalcy provisions in CT and how to incorporate national best practices;
  • looks at areas of implementation in which, based on the experiences of other states, may be of concern going forward; and
  • proposes a youth-focused strategy of ongoing, iterative efforts at normalcy implementation.
Issue Area:
Child Welfare