Working With Older Children and Youth
The average age of children waiting to be adopted from foster care is just over 8 years old, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Trends indicate that when waiting children reach between 8 and 9 years old, they are more likely to continue to wait for a family than be adopted. Many State child welfare agencies offer services and strategies to help older children and youth find permanent families.
This section has resources on emerging practices for working with these children and youth, including State and local examples.
Children's Bureau Youth Permanency Grant Cluster
Describes the results of nine grants awarded by the Children's Bureau to explore innovative programs to achieve youth permanency and includes curricula and attitude scales about options for youth permanency, including open adoption.
Report to Congress on Adoption and Other Permanency Outcomes for Children in Foster Care: Focus on Older Children
Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006)
Addresses challenges related to achieving permanency for children and youth in foster care and presents strategies that show promise for improved outcomes.
Six Steps to Find a Family: A Practice Guide to Family Search and Engagement (PDF - 2979 KB)
National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning & California Permanency for Youth Project (2008)
Outlines steps for identifying, locating, and engaging family members who may offer permanency to youth in foster care.
Adolescent Adoption: Success Despite Challenges (PDF - 191 KB)
Wright & Flynn
Children and Youth Services Review, (28)5, 2005
Reports findings from a study that examines how adoptive parents and adopted adolescents describe successful adoption, their challenges, and how they account for the success of their adoptions.
Child/Youth Assessment and Preparation
National Resource Center for Adoption
In Adoption Competency Curriculum: Trainer's Guide
Includes trainer preparation materials for a module that focuses on caseworker roles, policies, and procedures in child/youth assessment and preparation, older child and youth adoption, transitioning children and youth from foster care to adoption, and the adoption of sibling groups. Also available: Participant's Handbook
Family to Family: A Family for Every Child: Strategies to Achieve Permanence for Older Foster Children and Youth (PDF - 318 KB)
North American Council on Adoptable Children & Annie E. Casey Foundation (2005)
Provides background on the characteristics of older youth in care, the barriers that keep them from permanency, and a new emerging youth permanency philosophy. Recommendations are provided for steps agencies can take to effect organizational change toward permanency for older foster children and youth.
It's Time to Make Older Child Adoption a Reality: Because Every Child and Youth Deserves a Family (PDF - 1060 KB)
North American Council on Adoptable Children (2009)
Identifies policy and practice barriers that keep older children and youth in out-of-home care. The publication also highlights laws, programs, and practices that are successfully achieving permanence for older youth.
Making the Child Welfare System Work for Older Youth
Urban Institute (2007)
Includes audio files from presentations about serving permanency needs of older youth. Focus is placed on how adoption fits as a permanency goal, youth perspectives on placements and permanency, the availability of postadoption services, and concurrent planning for preteen children.
Positive Outcomes: What Workers Can Learn From Successful Teen Adoptions
Adoptalk, Spring (2005)
Discusses recommendations from findings of studies that analyzed successful teen adoptions through indepth interviews with parents and adopted teens to explore the concept of adoption success and learn what factors lead to positive outcomes.
Successful Older Child Adoption: Lessons From the Field
Adoptalk, Summer 2010
Shares strategies used by States receiving Federal grants to increase foster care adoptions and find adoptive families for older youth. Strategies include having specialists do case mining, involving children and youth, sticking with the adoption plan, relying on birth and foster families, providing leadership, partnering with private agencies, focusing on teamwork, improving court performance, and expanding postadoption services.
Teens Can Help Find Families
Adoptalk, Fall (2004)
Describes why and how caseworkers should involve youth in case planning and finding permanent families.
Unpacking the "NO" of Permanency for Older Adolescents: Planning for Youth Transitioning From Foster Care to Adulthood [PowerPoint Presentation] (PDF - 294 KB)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2010)
Addresses statistics, permanency definitions, strategies that support permanency, the concept of permanency for youth, various pathways to permanency, what youth say they need, and more.
Why Family Permanence Is Critical for Older Children and Youth in Foster Care (PDF - 506 KB)
Casey Family Services (2006)
Highlights statistics for older children and youth in the foster care system and outcomes for children who leave the child welfare system without a permanent family.
State and local examples
Family Connections Project: Youth Curriculum A [For Youth Who Are Legally Free With the Goal of Adoption] (PDF - 295 KB)
Adoptions Unlimited (2009)
Presents part A of a two-part training session designed to educate foster youth on the importance of openness in adoption and the need to maintain connections with significant people from their past
Recommendations for Effective Partnerships on Youth Permanence: Between Adoption and Foster Family Agencies and Child Welfare (PDF - 119 KB)
California Permanency for Youth Project
Presents recommendations about partnerships among child welfare agencies and how adoption/foster family agencies can accomplish improved permanency outcomes for foster youth.