Every child deserves a loving family to provide a safe and nurturing environment with as much stability and permanency as possible. In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) into law to try to ensure permanency and safety for all children in the child welfare system. Because of ASFA, all youth in the Foster Care system are provided with a “permanency plan” which means that every youth in the foster care system has one of the following permanency options:
- Reunification youth with biological parent(s)
- Kinship Care
- Legal Guardianship
- APPLA: Another permanent planned living arrangement
The goal is for young people in the foster care system to get a permanent connection with at least one supportive adult. This relationship will provide stability and unconditional parental-type love. Young people need and deserve this type of adult support as they begin to manage all the details of life and their transition to responsible adulthood. However, finding supportive adults is just part of the challenge. Youth need to be ready and able to participate in positive, caring, life-long relationships and be able to accept support from caring adults.
The 5 permanency plans listed above may provide legal options that can lead to permanency, but at FosterClub we feel that permanency is more than a law. Young people most often describe permanency in emotional terms. FosterClub members think of permanency as “a place to call home”, “a safety net”, “a circle of trust”, “a place you can go home to during the holidays.”
Do you know what your permanency plan is? You have one, and it fits into one of the above categories. If you do not know what your plan it is, it’s important that you find out. Ask your caseworker or social worker about it right away. You need to know what your permanency plan is because you might be in a plan that you don’t want.
Sometimes youth will cite independent living or emancipation as their permanency plan. Don’t be fooled. These are not permanency plans. Independent living programs provide you with important life skills you need to live life as an independent and successful adult. Emancipation means that you will leave the foster care system legally free from control by parents or the child welfare system. While both are important, they do not provide you with permanent connections to supportive adults.
“I wish I had someone with me, you know, like a mentor, for my entire life. I mean, I’m fine with all the help by my social worker but ... I never really met someone in the system or a mentor, that could be with me my entire life.” -Former foster youth, California
“I have come to believe that the drive for family is hard- wired in us. These young people know there is no substitute for that unconditional support family provides. Just like all of us, they need someone to write home to, and our foster care system should be helping them find that family.” Gary Stangler, Executive Director, Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and member of the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care.
Read the California Permanency for Youth Project’s definition of permanency
Watch 2009 FosterClub All-Star Stacie Carter talk about Permanency below
STORIES WRITTEN ABOUT YOUNG LEADERS ABOUT PERMANENCY: "Leaving foster care on his own" written by 2008 All-Star Chris Andrade. | More Real Stories from Foster Youth
POSITION PAPERS ABOUT PERMANENCY NFYAC's report on "Ensuring Permanency for Young People in the Foster Care System" provides some great suggestions on establishing permanency. < Read on
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ABOUT PERMANENCY Older youngsters yearning to be adopted meet prospective families at a first-of-its-kind party in the Philadelphia region < Full Article