Child Development Topics: Adolescent

Title IV-E Program offers free training to San Francisco Human Services Agency staff who work with youth in foster care, group home staff, foster family agency staff, and foster parents in San Francisco.  

Most classes can be offered at an agency’s site on weekdays, evenings, or Saturdays with a minimum of 8 guaranteed participants attending the training.  Agencies can select topics that are currently offered or request new workshops.  Our faculty can customize workshops that fit your agency's needs.

For eligibility questions and more information about scheduling classes, please contact

Adolescent Brain Development: Overview
Explore an overview of developmental neuro-cognitive topics related to children, adolescents, and adults. Study the elements that support healthy brain development and factors that negatively impact optimum cognitive outcomes. Discuss topics including: neuro-social-emotional development, attention, learning, plasticity, and cognitive diversity.  Review the latest neuroscience research findings with the objective of supporting best-practice services.  The second session focuses on the similarities and differences of the adolescent brain in comparison to early childhood and adult neural development.

Adolescent Brain Development & Risk-Taking
One day an adolescent may behave like a well-functioning young adult, and the next day like someone has taken over his/her body, acting completely different. Is this normal behavior?  Why is this occurring? Explore why this happens by focusing on what is going on in the brain during the period of adolescence into young adulthood. Examine how boys and girls are affected differently and what practitioners might anticipate from adolescents during this time period. Focus on adolescent risk-taking, both healthy and unhealthy, a natural part of adolescence. Discuss how you might approach young people differently, given what is happening physiologically within, as well as how to assist them to identify and choose healthier risk-taking behaviors.

Adolescent Child Development / Challenges of Adolescence
Explore the internal conflicts associated with developing teens. Increase your awareness of the influence of inner beliefs on outer behaviors; review techniques that empower youth in healthy conflict resolution skills.  Learn to promote the well-being of children who live in out-of-home care through providing skills that empower and support youth in understanding and resolving conflicts. The session consists of lectures, role-playing, and group discussions; it is designed so that everyone participates in the group interaction.

Adolescent Mental Health Issues
Foster youth are at greater risk of having mental health and behavioral issues related to their backgrounds of abuse and neglect. Obtain an overview of mental health issues for adolescents in out-of-home care including the impact of trauma, range of conditions, and counseling and treatment guidelines. Mood, anxiety, behavior, and psychotic disorders are discussed including approaches for addressing specific conditions and behavior issues provided.

Depression: Working with Teens That Are Stressed & Depressed
What is clinical depression and what is the difference between being depressed and feeling sad?  Discuss what depression is, the symptoms and behaviors related to depression, possible causes, and the types of depression, including major depression, dysthymia, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder or manic depression. All of these can affect youth and teens. Explore what you can do to help, tools to communicate with stressed-out and depressed teens, the importance of physical activity, and warning signs to watch for. Review Self-Care and the importance of modeling and setting appropriate boundaries.

Money: How to Talk to Teens about Money

Parents play an important part in helping children build sound money management skills. Explore how to help youth understand the difference between “needs” and “wants”; how to budget, how to save money by comparison shopping; and how to find the best bank accounts for your teens

Permanency Planning for Older Youth

Study issues impacting foster youth in their transition to adulthood and examine approaches and resources for helping youth in foster care achieve successful transition outcomes. Learn how to set goals, parameters, and expectations for behaviors that reflect youth input and mutually agreed-upon definitions of success. Focus on the importance of obtaining the foster youth’s perspective on past, present, and future life experiences and goals. Explore the importance of providing youth the opportunity to acquire life skills through practice and accept mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures.

Substance Abuse: Impact of Substance Abuse on Adolescents 

Transition to Adulthood for Youth in Foster Care

Youth in group homes and foster care have substantial issues and needs in making a successful transition to adulthood. Explore an overview of the current transition outcomes and barriers for foster youth, elements of successful transition (including adult support, education, employment, independent living skills, housing and health care), along with resources and approaches for group homes, foster parents, and service providers to support youth during their transition.

Working with Teen-Agers

Adolescence can be a difficult time for anyone to negotiate, particularly when one has been removed from one’s home.  Explore the subtleties of working with teenagers in out-of-home care. Obtain a sense of what it is like for adolescents in a program and how to partner with them in helping them meet treatment goals.  Engage in exercises that allow you to see how to avoid power struggles with adolescents and to team up with them against the struggles they face.  Participate in role play exercises designed to present a better understanding of the experiences of teenagers in out-of-home placements.