Parents, caregivers, and caring adults

Resource: NCFY

This website provides articles highlighting resources on research, program strategies, federal news, and funding opportunities.

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Youth

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, there were roughly 5.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) living in the U.S., representing approximately 1.7 percent of the total U.S. population.1 This represents an 18 percent increase since the last decennial census. Of this group, more than 2.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives are under the age of 24.2 This is approximately 42 percent of the total AI/AN population.

  • Nearly half of AI/ANs live on reservations or designated tribal lands in the western states, with the largest populations in Arizona, California, Oklahoma, and New Mexico,3 and 60 percent live in urban communities.
  • The states with the largest proportion of AI/ANs include Alaska with nearly 15 percent of the state population,4 California with 14 percent, and Oklahoma with nearly 10 percent.5

There are 573 federally-recognized tribes in 35 states in the United States.6 Each tribe is distinct, with its own form of self-governance, culture, traditions, language, and community infrastructure. In the state of Alaska there are 229 federally-recognized tribes.7

Sovereignty is a legal word for the authority to self-govern and to protect and foster the health, safety, and welfare of AI/AN peoples within tribal territory. Essentially, tribal sovereignty refers to tribes’ inherent rights to manage their own affairs and to exist as nations. Currently, the 573 sovereign tribal nations (variously called tribes, nations, bands, pueblos, communities, and Native villages) have a political government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government.

Tribal governments exercise jurisdiction over 100 million acres of land, that would make Indian Country the fourth largest state in the nation.8 Tribal governments are an important and unique member of the American family of governments, which includes tribal governments, the U.S. federal government, and the U.S. states. The U.S. Constitution recognizes that tribal nations are sovereign governments.

As members of tribes, AI/AN people have both an ethnic and political status. As governments, tribes exercise substantial governing powers within their territory, including regulating research. Similar to federal and state governments, tribes have sovereign power over their lands, citizens, and related affairs.

As a result of the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government, the federal government is obligated by a responsibility relationship to protect tribal resources. Federal policies are designed to further the trust relationship including offering certain social services such as education and health, and support for tribal services provision. Previous federal policies of forced removal of AI/AN tribes from their traditional homelands, and forced assimilation of AI/AN people into mainstream America have exacerbated some of the social service needs of AI/AN youth.

Although tribes and their governments vary widely, to be a member of a tribe means to share a common bond that may include ancestry, kinship, language, culture, ceremonies, and political authority with other members. AI/AN tribes are working diligently to reverse the negative impacts of poverty, historical and intergenerational trauma, health, education, and justice disparities to ensure the future, health, and well-being of their members.


Native American Youth 101: Information on the Historical Context and Current Status of Indian Country and Native American Youth (PDF, 10 pages)
This resource provides information on the historical context and current status of Indian country and Native American youth.

The Center for Native American Youth
The Center for Native American Youth was developed to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development, and advocacy.

The National Congress of American Indians
The National Congress of American Indians provides several channels to support Native youth, including the NCAI Youth Commission, the National Native Youth Cabinet, NDN Spark, and internships and fellowships. In 2011 and 2012 NCAI collaborated with the Department of Justice to host the National Indian Youth Summit.


1 American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes in the United States and Puerto Rico: 2010, 2011
2 Native American Youth 101, n.d.
3 Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008
4 U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, race counted as ‘Native American and Alaska Native alone’
5 U.S. Census Bureau, 2012, race counted as ‘Native American and Alaska Native alone or in combination’
6 Bureau of Indian Affairs, 2014
7 U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, 2016
8 National Congress of American Indians, n.d.

The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys: A TAG Talk

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and New York University Professor of Developmental Psychology Niobe Way developed a video and two discussion guides about the crisis of connection, its impact on the health and well-being of adolescent boys, and the implications for their work with teens.

Reports: Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Evaluation Findings (FY 2010-2014)

These reports illustrate the findings of 41 rigorous evaluations conducted through the OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program.

HHS and DOJ host listening session with youth who have an incarcerated parent

The effects of incarceration are felt far beyond prison walls: children, families, and communities also experience the consequences of incarceration.

Youth Formerly in Foster Care Help Create Federal Foster Care Transition Toolkit

Being a youth in foster care can be difficult. Some youth in foster care often experience trauma before entering into the foster care system. Once youth enter foster care, there are often a lack sufficient role models and resources are either scarce or spread out. Gaining access to information about even the simplest things, like opening a bank account, can be a real hurdle. That’s why the recently released Foster Care Transition Toolkit is so important.

Resource: Reunification: Bringing Your Children Home From Foster Care

This factsheet for families provides an overview of the reunification process, including what parents can expect while their children are in foster care, what they can do to help their children return home, and what to expect after children return home.

Financial Capability & Literacy

Financial capability and literacy is “the capacity, based on knowledge, skills, and access, to manage financial resources effectively.”1 This set of skills can help youth achieve financial well-being, which happens when they can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, feel secure in their financial future, and are capable of making decisions that allow them to enjoy life.2 Financial education is how youth can learn these skills through a variety of resources and programming.

Today’s youth face a financial marketplace that is more complex than the one faced by previous generations. A recent study found that millennials have greater financial concerns than older generations:

  • 55 percent of millennials with student debt worry that they will not be able to pay off their debt, and
  • almost 50 percent are concerned that they have too much debt in general (i.e., credit cards).3

Financial capability is knowing how to spend wisely, manage credit, and plan for the future. Financial capability is an effective way to help youth, no matter their circumstances, avoid common financial vulnerabilities and build economic stability.4 Youth should be educated about finances early in life and at pivotal points in their development and financial lives.5 Having a higher financial literacy early in life is associated with:

  • less credit card debt,
  • higher savings rates,
  • and fewer personal bankruptcies.6

As they approach high school graduation, students and their caregivers will make important decisions about whether to pursue higher education and if so, how to face the reality of paying for it. Additionally, youth who do not attend college or trade school directly after high school will more quickly face financial responsibilities as adults.7 These early choices can have a long-lasting impact on their financial well-being.


Brochures and Fact Sheets from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
This website provides a list of the CFPB’s brochures, bookmarks, fact sheets, fliers, worksheets, and posters that can be downloaded or ordered in bulk. Many of these publications are available in multiple languages.
This website can help youth manage their money, understand credit, identify scams, and prevent theft.

Money Smart for Young People
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers Money Smart, a financial education curriculum designed to teach basic financial topics to people with low- and moderate-levels of income. Tools are available for different age groups and in nine languages.
This website contains financial education resources for young people, caregivers, and educators. It is organized around the My Money Five principles: spend, earn, save and invest, protect, and borrow.

Quick Tips for Managing Your Money (from the FDIC)
This web page provides strategies and practical guidance to help young adults and teenagers with borrowing, saving, banking, and avoiding scams.


1 U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2010
2 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2015
3 Mottola, 2014; millennials are born between 1978 and 1994
4 Consumer Protection Financial Bureau & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2014
5 Center for Financial Security, 2012
6 Bernheim, Garrett, & Maki, 2001
7 McCormick, 2009

Tip Sheet for Incarcerated Parents: Planning for a Visit from Your Child/Children

Download the PDF (3 pages).

Visitation can be an important and meaningful experience for incarcerated parents and their children, but it can also be a source of stress and anxiety when parents’ or children’s expectations do not align with what ends up happening. Many aspects of visitation are outside of the control of an incarcerated parent, but there are things you can do to anticipate problems and reduce stress to make visitation a positive and beneficial experience for everyone involved. Below are things to consider when planning for a visit from your child. If you do not know the answer to a question, think about who in your facility you can ask for an answer such as other incarcerated parents, volunteers, or facility staff. Even if you cannot find the answer to a particular question, if you think it could affect the visit make sure your child’s caregiver is aware of the issue.

Things to Consider Before the Visit

  • What are the rules? It can be very disappointing for everyone when families are turned away and not allowed to visit because they did not understand the visiting rules and procedures of the facility. To help prevent this from happening, check with the staff and let your family know the rules on:
    • What can visitors wear? Many facilities prohibit revealing clothing, sweatshirts with hoods, or spandex-type clothing. Open toed shoes may also be a problem.
    • What can visitors bring to a visit? Some facilities allow caregivers with infants to bring a bottle, a change of clothes, and a diaper; and they may allow a child to bring a toy or a book; other facilities do not. Can a child bring a gift? Many facilities do not allow visitors to bring in gifts or other items including cash for their loved one. It can be terribly disappointing for a child to plan to give their parent a drawing or small gift only to be told at security that it is not allowed.
    • How many visitors are allowed at one time? Facilities can be very strict on the maximum number of visitors and count infants towards this number. If only two people are allowed in and there are three young children, make sure your visitor knows that he/she may need someone to watch the other children while you are visiting. How can you divide visiting time evenly between your children? Is there a waiting area for additional guests to stay in during the visit if not everyone is allowed in at one time?
    • Who needs to be on the visitation list? Some facilities only require adults to be on the list, while others require minors to be included as well. Even if you have already made a request to put someone on the list, it is good to check before they visit to make sure your request has been processed.
  • How will your child react to the security? Jails and prisons can be intimidating environments for children, especially if this is their first visit. Trying to familiarize yourself with what your child will encounter during their visit and if possible explaining this information to them or their caregiver before the visit can help children feel more comfortable.
    • Think about what your child can expect to experience when going through security. Factors that could be intimidating include having dogs on site, going through a metal detector, and guards patting them down. Children may also face long lines and wait times without being able to bring along books, toys, or food. This may make children hungry, tired, and irritable by the time they are able to see you.
    • Consider informing them about the environment of the visiting room, such as if it is typically crowded and noisy with many other visitors. This may be a distraction for children during the visit, but knowing the environment ahead of time can help to prepare them.
  • Will your child/children be able to touch you? The format of the visitation can vary by facility and sometimes children can become upset if they are not able to have as much physical contact with their parent as they had anticipated. If possible, informing your child or their caregiver about what the format of the visit will be ahead of time can help children prepare for the visit. For example, factors to consider could include:
    • Are the visits video (or virtual) where you visit through a computer monitor?
    • Will you and your child be separated by Plexiglas?
    • Are contact visits allowed and if so what are the rules? Can your child hug you or sit on your lap? Do these rules vary by the age of your child?
    • How long are the visits?
  • How can you interact with your child/children? Visitations are a great time to bond with your child and thinking about what activities may be age appropriate to do during your visit can help to maximize this time.
    • If you have a baby you may want to sing quietly or read them a book.
    • An older child or teen may want to talk about what is going on with their school or sports.
    • Depending on the rules of the facility and the resources available, consider playing cards or another game together.
    • If it is a no contact visit, try to develop a signal to convey your emotions to the child, such as hands to the glass.
  • Who is bringing the child/children? Considering who is bringing your child to the visit and what your relationship is with that person can help to prevent negative conversations that may arise.
    • If you have a particularly strained relationship with the person bringing your child to visit, try to put those feelings aside so that you can prioritize this time with your child.
    • If there are things that you would like to discuss with this person that your child should not hear, encourage them to visit at another time without the child or make a plan to discuss those issues by phone.
  • Are there special visiting programs available? Some prisons have programs that allow special accommodations for visits between incarcerated mothers or fathers and their children such as contact visits or visits in child friendly rooms equipped with toys and activities. These programs can be really valuable for your children, but they often have special rules or eligibility criteria. To see if you and your child can benefit from one of these programs, ask about who can participate and how you can be involved.

Things to Consider During the Visit

  • Your child may be nervous. A child experiencing some nervousness, especially if this is their first visit, is normal. Try to give your child some time when they first arrive to settle in and consider what you know about their personality. For example, if your child is particularly shy or anxious, they may need a little more time to warm up in a new environment.
  • Your child may have changed since the last visit. If your child has visited before, but it has been a while since they have last seen you, they may comment on how you look different. Acknowledge your child’s own development and change (For example: “You’ve gotten so tall.” or “I can’t believe how many teeth you’ve lost since I last saw you!”).
  • Good questions to ask. There may be things that are happening in your child’s life that are particularly exciting or stressful for them such as moving, changing schools, or participating in a new sport or activity. Visitations can be a perfect opportunity for you to ask them about these events and their feelings about them. Every parent-child dynamic is different, but sometimes asking specific questions like “what’s your favorite class?” or “tell me about your best friend” can engage your child more than general questions like, “how are you?” Do not get discouraged if the child doesn’t talk as much as you would like. For smaller children, physical contact, if allowed, can be more important and meaningful than talking.
  • Ways to engage other than talking. Children may have their own ideas on what they would like to do during the visit. If there are toys to play with during the visit you can use this opportunity to ask if they would like to choose a game to play or if they would prefer to just sit and talk. Some facilities have photo machines or other ways that you can have a picture taken with your child. Some facilities charge with cash and coins while others require visitors to purchase tokens or tickets. Making sure caregivers are prepared to have cash with them for vending machines and photo opportunities can be useful when possible.
  • Timing matters. The time of the visit may impact how your child feels during the visit. For example, if visits begin early in the morning, children and their caregivers may have been up very early to allow time for travel or if the visits happen over the lunch hour they may feel hungry. Often, these factors are unavoidable, but it can be useful to keep in mind during the visit and try to be understanding.
  • How to make saying goodbye easier. Try to give your child 5 minute and 10 minute warnings before the end of the visit so that they can start mentally preparing to leave. Children can feel more at ease if they know the next time they will be able to visit. If you know this information, tell your child roughly when the next visit will occur. If possible, try to provide a transitional item for the child to take home such as a drawing or photo to end on a positive note.

Things to Consider After the Visit

  • Who can the child talk to about it? It is important for children to be able to express their feelings about the visit. Families and other individuals can be a great support system. Consider talking to your child’s caregiver about reaching out to a broader support network, both within and beyond your family for advice and assistance.
  • Follow-up with a call or letter. It may be helpful to call or send a letter a few days after the visit to remind your child that there are other ways to communicate other than in-person visits. It could also be nice to ask a question or share a detail that your child told you during the visit to show that you were listening, such as “how did that test go?” or “are you still feeling sad about so and so?”
  • What are other sources of support for your child? There may be programs or resources that can help your child through this time. Encourage your child’s caregiver or other family members to look into mentoring programs or other resources that can be of assistance to your child. You can share with them the "Resources for Caregivers" section.

Resources for Caregivers: Talking to Children

Sesame Street’s Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration

Materials from the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated
Age-specific guidance (PDF, 3 pages)
Advice for caregivers (PDF, 4 pages) (PDF, 2 pages)

Materials from the New Jersey Department of Corrections, When a parent goes to prison: A guide to discussing your incarceration with your children (PDF, 116 pages)

Materials from the Oregon Program, Parenting Inside Out (providing evidence-based curriculum for incarcerated mothers and fathers)
Including a set of materials targeted toward educators and caregivers and a collection of resources for children

For children in foster care (PDF, 22 pages)

New Brief Highlights the Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth in Child Welfare Settings

A recent brief from the Permanency Innovations Initiative highlights how research is helping us to better understand the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in child welfare settings. The brief presents findings from qualitative interviews conducted with youth participating in the Recognize, Intervene,