Introduction to Well-Being

Child and adult well-being are central to living productive, satisfying and healthy lives. The federal Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) describes child well-being as follows:

Children’s behavioral, emotional and social functioning – those skills, capacities and characteristics that enable young people to understand and navigate their world in healthy, positive ways. [1]

Attaining well-being outcomes is critical to maintaining safe permanency or reduction, especially in reducing the cyclical nature of child welfare. Insuring that children and youth are provided with opportunities to thrive is one of the cornerstones of influence of advocates.

However, many children and youth experience poor outcomes during their time in foster care and many who age out of foster care without achieving permanency, have significant challenges. Children and youth in foster care face long-term risks from their exposure to violence, child maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences. The good news is that there is an increasing body of evidence-based programs that state child welfare systems can develop to improve children’s well-being.

ACYF has identified four primary domains for measuring well-being: cognitive functioning, physical health and development, behavioral/emotional functioning and social functioning. Addressing these domains through the provision of effective interventions and through a trauma-informed lens is critical to helping children and youth impacted by abuse and neglect and out-of-home placement, succeed as adults.