Social and Emotional Development in Children and Adolescents

Knowledge Path


This knowledge path directs readers to a selection of current, high-quality resources about promoting healthy social and emotional development in children and adolescents. Resources tap into the health, education, and social services literature. Separate sections present resources by age group and cover topics such as developmental stages; factors that impact social and emotional development; policies and programs to promote social and emotional well-being in homes and community settings; and strategies for integrating health, developmental, and educational services. This knowledge path is aimed at health professionals, program administrators, policymakers, and community advocates. Separate briefs present resources for families and schools. This knowledge path has been developed by NCEMCH and will be updated periodically.


See the Bright Futures materials, What to Expect and When to Seek Help: Bright Futures Developmental Tools for Families and Providers (2006). This set of four tools in English and Spanish aims to help professionals and families begin important conversations together on how best to support the social and emotional development of infants, children, and adolescents.

Resources for Professionals

General Resources


Infants and Young Children

This section presents resources that address scientific research about early child development; early childhood social, emotional, and communication milestones; developmental screening; early literacy and school readiness; strategies for integrating health, developmental, and educational services for young children and families; and state policy approaches for promoting early childhood care and education.

School-Age Children

This section presents resources about promoting the social and emotional development of school-age children and includes resources that address social and emotional learning as part of school and after-school programs. Several resources are applicable to adolescents, as well.

  • Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Information about and materials to support evidence-based social, emotional, and academic learning as an essential part of education, from preschool through high school. Presents research demonstrating the positive impacts of social and emotional practices on students' academic achievement, on reducing high-risk behaviors, and on promoting positive adolescent development. Resources include issue briefs, reports, program guides, PowerPoint presentations, and tools for working with families.

  • Harvard Family Research Project. Research information and publications to promote the well-being of children, adolescents, families, and their communities by supporting children's learning and development. Research areas include complementary learning, family involvement, and out-of-school time.

  • National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. Program information, webinars, research briefs, evidence-based intervention fact sheets, and other resources. The center provides technical assistance and training to school districts and communities as they plan, implement, and sustain federally funded initiatives to foster resilience, promote mental health, and prevent adolescent violence and mental health and behavioral challenges.

  • Several resources in the Adolescents section are applicable to school-age children.


This section presents resources that address scientific research about adolescent development; interdisciplinary models of physical and behavioral health care for adolescents; and approaches for developing, supporting, and sustaining youth development programs. Several resources are applicable to school-age children, as well.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Healthy Youth! Adolescent Health. Information about societal influences on adolescents and the critical types of adolescent health behavior that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among adolescents and adults in the United States. Publications include science-based strategies to improve adolescent health and well-being. Also see the Guide to Community Preventive Services: Adolescent Health for recommendations on population-based interventions that focus on adolescent alcohol and drug use, violence, and sexual behaviors. See too the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).

  • Program and funding information and resources to help youth-serving organizations and community partnerships plan, implement, and participate in effective programs for children and adolescents. Topics include positive child and adolescent development, bullying, after-school programs, and transition-age adolescents. was created by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, which is composed of representatives from 12 federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on children and adolescents. See the directory of evidence-based programs.

  • Forum for Youth Investment. Issue briefs, webinars, articles, and news about efforts to improve education, out-of-school time, adolescent development, and policy and planning to ensure that adolescents have the supports, opportunities, and services needed to prosper and contribute where they live, learn, work, and play. The forum is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all adolescents are ready for college, work, and life. Initiatives include

    Ready by 21. A framework for child and adolescent-focused planning and decision-making and tools to help change makers—from parents to program directors to policy makers—optimize resources and streamline strategies to improve outcomes for infants, children, and adolescents.

  • National Adolescent and Young Adult Health Information Center (NAHIC). Fact sheets, policy briefs, reports, and other materials about adolescent health on topics that include positive adolescent development, particularly for adolescent males. NAHIC is based at the University of California, San Francisco.

  • National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health. Fact sheets, issue briefs, reports, and journal article citations about health care topics important to adolescents, such as health insurance and access to care; development of adolescent-friendly, interdisciplinary models of care; and assurance of confidential care. The alliance provides education, research, policy analysis, and technical assistance to support improvements in the way that adolescent health care is structured and financed.

  • National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (NCFY): Positive Youth Development. Program development and funding information, publications, an online training module, news, and a library about positive adolescent development. NCFY is funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB).

  • Note: Several resources in the School-Age Children section are applicable to adolescents.

Data and Statistics

Journal Articles and Other Literature and Research

Programs Databases

Resources for Families

Resources for Schools

Related NCEMCH Resources

Social and Emotional Development in Children and Adolescents: Knowledge Path, 2nd ed. (May 2011). (Updated: August 2014).

Author: Susan Brune Lorenzo, M.L.S., NCEMCH.
Reviewers: Lauren Agoratus, M.A., Family Voices and Family-to-Family Health Information Resource Center at the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of N.J.; Robin L. Harwood, Ph.D., Maternal and Child Health Bureau; Keri Linas, Ph.D., Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development; Olivia Pickett, M.A., M.L.S., NCEMCH; Judi Siegel, L.I.C.S.W., Children's Hospital Boston.
Editor: Ruth Barzel, M.A., NCEMCH.