Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Whose Permanency Is It, Anyway?

Voices From the 2008 National Convening on Youth Permanence

More than 30 youth and alumni from foster care attending the 2008 National Convening on Youth Permanence participated in an impromptu session facilitated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Family to Family Youth Engagement Team. Participants shared their experiences and provided recommendations about improving the foster care system.

What concerned these young people the most were issues of trust; they felt unable to trust the concept and the process of permanency planning. Most youth also reported that they had not been included in the process of identifying permanent connections for themselves.

Youth recommended the following important steps in developing a trusting partnership:

  • Redefine permanence to include emotional connections.
  • Address the disparities in permanency outcomes for older youth and youth of color.
  • Continue the permanency search beyond emancipation.
  • Involve youth in planning for future Convenings.

To read the full Recommendations of Youth and Young Adults From the 2008 National Convening on Youth Permanence, please visit:


The California Permanency for Youth Project (CPYP) emphasizes the importance of (1) involving youth in their own permanency planning and (2) using technology to help youth find family connections.

They work with California counties to ensure that youth leave foster care with some kind of permanent connection with a caring adult.

The Emancipated Youth Connections Project involved 20 young adults (ages 17-39) who had exited foster care with no permanent connections. Services were provided to help them make those connections.

To learn more, read the Emancipated Youth Connections Project Final Report/Toolkit, available at:


The August 2008 Destination Future: National Youth Leadership Development Conference brought together youth leaders in foster care or formerly in care from around the country to discuss their experiences in foster care and their hopes for the future. This conference was sponsored by the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD) and supported by the Children's Bureau.

The 94 youth and 74 adults in attendance were divided among eight groups, each with a focus topic for discussion:

  • Engaging youth in the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) implementation
  • Extending the Federal foster care program payments to age 21
  • Ensuring youths' success in their academic endeavors
  • Meeting youths' cultural needs while in foster care
  • Involving youth in the court case review process
  • Developing and maintaining youths' connections to family members
  • Ensuring that youth who do not go to college can still find a good-paying job
  • Ensuring that youths' mental health services needs are met

The conference slogan "Nothing about us without us" reflects the desires of foster youth to take an active role in the decisions that affect their lives and develop ways to influence programs and policies. This theme was raised in all of the small-group discussions.

To read the full report of the conference, Destination Future: National Youth Leadership Conference Report, by Jacqueline Smollar, please visit:


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Blogger Lulu McCabe said...

I just found your blog and I'm so grateful to you. I'm the foster/adoptive parent of a teenage boy. We met when he was 15, through a program that allows older kids in foster care who can't return to their birth families to meet adults who interested in mentorship/fostering/adopting. The program is focused on allowing natural connections to emerge, so that kids establish permanent connections with a caring adult in whatever configuration works best for them. Some of those lead to adoption-others lead to lifelong friendships that defy the legal categories of foster care. Anyway, thanks for writing your blog. I look forward to following it!

6:59 PM  

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