Finding a permanent family is the often the primary goal when children and youth enter out-of-home care, but they also may need to establish, re-establish, or strengthen meaningful connections with people who are not immediate members of their permanent families. Children and youth may wish to maintain contact with relatives, friends, or other supports that were part of their lives when residing with their birth families. Additionally, youth may be greatly assisted by creating and maintaining connections with caring adults as they potentially transition out of foster care and into independent living situations. Resources include State and local examples.
Belonging and Emotional Security Tool (BEST) (PDF - 151 KB)
The Annie E. Casey Foundation & Casey Family Services (2008)
Includes a tool that social workers can use to explore youths' sense of emotional security with their foster parents and foster parents' sense of claiming and attachment with youth in their care, which can help advance meaningful permanency conversations.
Focusing on Outcomes for Youth: Permanent Connections
National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth (2012)
The Exchange, May Issue
Includes articles about ways to achieve and improve permanent connections for runaway and homeless youth.
Maintaining Family Relationships for Children in the Child Welfare System (PDF - 168 KB)
Wentz & Beck (2012)
ABA Child Law Practice, 31(7)
Highlights the Family Finding and Engagement Model, which is used to maintain a child's natural support system or build an alternative support network, and offers guidance to support youth in child welfare.
Preparation for Adulthood: Supervising for Success: Learning Circles
The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2007)
Includes resources and digital stories for a learning circle about developing and maintaining positive permanent connections between youth and caring adults.
A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime: Relational Permanence Among Young Adults With Foster Care Backgrounds
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Explores the social support networks of young adults in foster care and examines how foster care might constrain or facilitate supportive relationships into adulthood.
Six Steps to Find a Family: A Practice Guide to Family Search and Engagement (FSE) (PDF - 2,970 KB)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections & California Permanency for Youth Project
Provides detailed guidance on casework practice that supports family search and engagement in the quest to provide permanency for youth. The guide provides a section on research related to youth permanency, as well as a list of resources.
What Does 'Family' Mean?
Youth Communication (2013)
Represent: The Voice of Youth in Care, Winter Issue
Explores how youth in foster care decide whom they consider to be family members and their different interpretations of what "family" means to them. This issue includes poetry from youth in foster care.
Youth Connections Scale
University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (2012)
Describes and provides the Youth Connection Scale, a tool to help child welfare agencies and organizations help youth in foster care strengthen and build a supportive safety net and achieve relational permanence.
Emancipated Youth Connections Project Final Report/Toolkit (PDF - 3,011 KB)
Jacobson, Friend, Louisell, & Reynolds-Harris (2008)
California Permanency for Youth Project
Describes a project that assisted 20 young adults who left the child welfare system with few or no permanent connections to find and create these relationships.
Maintaining Connections: The Values Behind Family Engagement Practices Within the Child Welfare System (PDF - 2,683 KB)
Effective Planning and Innovative Communication, Inc. & State of Hawai?i Department of Human Services (2013)
Describes a Fostering Connections grant awarded to the Hawai'i Department of Human Services and details the traditional and nontraditional values that the programs drew upon to help engage families.