In child welfare, permanency is a permanent, stable living situation, ideally one in which family connections are preserved. Permanency planning begins when a child comes to the attention of the child welfare system. It is most often achieved when a child is reunified with their family of origin, but it may also occur when another court mandated permanency goal, such as guardianship or adoption, is obtained.
Engaging children, youth, and families in permanency planning and placement decisions is important to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and youth in foster care. The first placement consideration should be with family members or close friends capable of providing a safe and nurturing home. Continuously engaging youth and families in adoption and guardianship is key.
Kinship care supports increased stability and allows children to maintain connections to their family, friends, and communities. When children are in kinship or foster care, child welfare professionals and others should facilitate connections with siblings, family members, or other significant adults to maintain relational permanency.
Use these resources to learn more about achieving and maintaining permanency for children and youth.
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Adoption is a legal process through which children who will not be raised by their birth parents become a permanent member of another family. Children and families benefit from services that support the transition, adoption, and lifelong connections.
Adoption From Foster Care
Adoption is a permanency option for many children and youth in foster care. Adoption is an adjustment for all members of the family, but being prepared and aware of the unique needs of children and youth can help adoptive families thrive.
Children and youth thrive living in their communities with their families whenever possible. When families must be separated, the next best option for children is to live with their relatives or fictive kin in kinship care.
Reducing the Use of Congregate Care
Child welfare agencies should prioritize keeping children with family or kin and within their own communities. Congregate care settings, such as group homes and residential facilities, should be used only when medically or behaviorally necessary.
Child welfare professionals should understand the importance of relational permanency, which occurs when youth develop long-term connections with siblings, relatives, and other caring adults who make them feel loved and connected.
Tailored, intensive, and family-centered services help support families as they work on their reunification goals. Child welfare agencies implement many strategies that build on family strengths and address safety concerns.
Independent Living and Transitioning From Foster Care
Connecting youth and young people in foster care with meaningful relationships and providing them with information on education, employment, housing, and other services can help them plan for the transition from foster care to the next steps in life.
Foster care is a temporary living situation for children and youth who cannot safely live at home with their parents or other caregivers. While in foster care, children may live with relatives or other licensed caregivers.
Belonging Matters - Helping Youth Explore Permanency
Find information for child welfare and adoption professionals to help youth in foster care explore permanency options and the value of secure, permanent connections based on interviews with young people who were adopted or aged out of foster care.
Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children
Review laws that require child welfare agencies to make reasonable efforts to provide services to help families remedy the conditions that brought the child and family into the child welfare system. The factsheet also defines reasonable efforts.
Partnering With Birth Parents To Promote Reunification
Learn what foster caregivers can do to promote reunification, which may include communicating with birth parents, the caseworker, and the agency; cultivating compassion; and maintaining contact with families after reunification or other permanency.
Promoting Permanency for Older Youth in Out-of-Home Care
Find information for child welfare professionals and others about the importance of permanency for youth and strategies for achieving it. Permanency efforts for youth should include an emphasis on both legal permanency and relational permanency.
Youth Engagement Team: Recommendations for Improving Permanency and Well-Being
Review key recommendations from three roundtable discussions with young adults with lived experience in the foster care system and read suggestions on how to support permanency with kin, relational permanency, and successful older youth adoption.
Engaging Partners to Achieve Timely Permanency for Children and Youth Waiting to Be Adopted
Learn about the importance of working with partners to reduce the time children and youth in foster care wait to become a permanent part of a family, and explore tips and strategies to engage organizations, families, and youth in permanency efforts.