Supporting youth in developing and maintaining life-long relationships within a family-based setting is a cornerstone of setting up youth for success that lasts well beyond their time in care. A sense of belonging provides youth with a foundation that helps to prepare them to reach their goals. Read on to learn more about how to support permanent relationships for youth.

Merging Permanency and Independent Living: Lifelong Family Relationships and Life Skills for Older Youth
2004 Lauren Frey, The Casey Center for Effective Child Welfare Practice
This article defines permanency as a family relationship that is intended to last a lifetime. It challenges child welfare practitioners and policy-makers to concurrently prioritize permanency outcomes along with safety and well-being outcomes for older youth. Eight core principles are identified as foundational to successfully integrating family permanency with life skills, long-term supports and transitional services for the oldest youth in the US foster care system.

National Convening on Youth Permanence
2006 Annie E. Casey Foundation
In September 2006, The Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services served as the National Convening host in Washington, D.C. Thirty seven organizations met with the shared interest of raising the importance of family permanence, reforming policy, practice, and systems to advance the needs of these vulnerable adolescents.

Permanency Pact: Life-long, kin-like connections between a youth and supportive adult
A free tool to support permanency for youth in foster care

2006 FosterClub, Inc.
FosterClub recognizes that youth transitioning to adulthood need a person they can count on for ongoing support.  They have created a toolkit to help develop a “Permanency Pact” – a formalized, facilitated process to connect youth in foster care with a supportive adult. The process of bringing the supportive adult together with youth and developing a Permanency Pact has proven successful providing a committed individual who can be the youth’s “safety net” long-term.

Booster Club
A sub-group of the national network for US youth in care, the Booster Club is designed for grown-ups who support young people in foster care.  They offer online training for foster parents about navigating biological families, the court system, education, mental health, special needs children, and youth transitioning to adulthood.

NAPCWA’s Youth Aging Out Survey Results: Family/Permanency Connections
2007 National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators
The NAPCWA surveyed child welfare departments in the US and asked the following questions:
1.  As youth prepare to exit foster care, what strategies has your state implemented to locate,
engage, and connect these youth with family resources?
2.  What strategies does your state use to connect youth with their siblings?
3.  What other strategies does your state utilize to obtain and promote permanent connections
with other adults?
and synthesized the responses, programs and approaches provided by 18 states.

National Foster Parent Association
This organization represents thousands of foster families in the US, and supports foster parents in achieving safety, permanence and well-being for the children and youth in their care.  The NFPA has partnered with to provide online, self-paced training for foster parents on key topics.  The NFPA also hosts an annual conference, with presentations and workshops from leading child welfare experts.

Youth Leaving Care: An OACAS Survey of Youth and CAS Staff
2006 Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
In 2006, the OACAS conducted a survey of more than 300 youth in care and 300 staff from 23 participating child welfare agencies in Ontario.  There were three main findings from the survey, which have been brought forward as key advocacy points and some of which were addressed in Bill 179: 1) Agencies should treat youth “as a good parent would”, and allow supports into youths’ 20s.  2) Transitioning to independence should be allowed to happen gradually; and 3) Youth should be permitted to make mistakes (ie. Those that leave care before their 18th birthday should be eligible to receive ECM supports if needed).

Permanency or Aging Out: Adolescents in the Child Welfare System
2009 University of Minnesota School of Social Work
This issue of CW360° presents overview articles that describe the successes, challenges and outcomes for youth from all backgrounds emancipating from the child welfare system and in finding permanency. Also included are practice articles, which review current research completed and the special challenges that GLBTQ youth and youth with disabilities face as it becomes time to transition out of care and into independence. Finally, articles detailing the personal struggles and triumphs from former foster youth, their workers, and the organizations that serve them are included to give us all perspective in this critical area of child welfare practice.

Ministry of Children and Youth Services – Foster Care
Foster care is one option for providing homes for children who can’t live safely with their own parents or caregivers. Foster parents provide the day-to-day care for a child on behalf of a children’s aid society. The MCYS licenses and funds Ontario’s foster care system, to help provide a stable and caring home for children in care. (En français)

OACAS – Fostering
Where possible, the preferred option is to place the child with a member of the immediate or extended family or a member of the community. If that is not possible, foster care may be the best alternative.  Foster care allows children’s needs to be met in a family environment. Foster parents provide a temporary home for children who are in the care of a Children’s Aid Society. Children may need foster care for just a few days, a week, several months or possibly years.

About Foster Care
Foster care is a loving, nurturing and supportive environment for children when they cannot remain in their home or with family members. Foster parents work with Children’s Aid staff as part of a team to develop a plan for each child in care. The ideal plan is usually to reunite a child with their family. When this is not possible, the plan may include adoption or long-term foster care. Foster parents provide stability and a caring home that encourages a child’s growth and development.

Foster Parents Society of Ontario
The Foster Parents Society of Ontario (FPSO) is the dedicated voice of all Foster Families in Ontario. As a provincial association, the FPSO provides a strong, collective voice for local Foster Parents Associations to CAS agencies and the Ministry. This provides advocacy for foster families as well as the children in their care. FPSO is of the view that increasing positive outcomes for children in care is made possible by the many initiatives foster families undertake which nurture and strengthen relationships with foster children that last a lifetime.

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