Seeing Brain Development Through the Lens of Racial and Ethnic Equity

During adolescence, brain development depends on experiences and opportunities to build relationships, exercise autonomy, take risks and grow in a supportive environment. For youth of color, normal risk taking may be inhibited by fear of repercussions and more often criminalized. Healthy brain development is fundamental to healing, successfully transitioning into adulthood and overall well-being.

Youth of color are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system through no fault of their own and experience disparately negative outcomes when compared with their white peers in foster care. 

  • African-American youth are more likely than white or Latino children to be placed in group institutions rather than foster families. 
  • 57 percent of youth who identify as LGBTQ in child welfare systems are youth of color. Such youth are more likely than their peers to experience instability in their home environments and have poor mental and behavioral health outcomes.

Source: Road to Adulthood: Aligning Child Welfare Practice with Adolescent Brain Development