When children are not able to safely reunify with their families, finding a permanent family becomes the primary goal. Children and youth may also need to establish, reestablish, or strengthen meaningful connections with people who are not immediate members of their permanent families. In this section, you will find resources to help youth create and maintain connections with caring adults as they achieve permanency or transition out of foster care and into independent living situations. Resources include State and local examples.
Authentic Relationships Matter Most: A New Model for Permanency - Pilot Study Findings (PDF - 4,311 KB)
Faulkner, Belseth, Adkins, & Perez (2018)
Texas Institute for Child and Family Wellbeing
Provides an overview of legal permanency for children in foster care and describes a model that helps give youth what they need to succeed in adulthood.
Care and Connections: Bridging Relational Gaps for Foster Youths (PDF - 722 KB)
Denby, Gomez, & Reeves (2017)
Brookings Institution, Center on Children and Families
Explores the challenges of implementing and evaluating relationship-based interventions in child welfare and presents implications and recommendations for child welfare professionals and agencies working to increase relational capacities for children and youth in foster care.
Connect Our Kids
Points professionals to technology, including free software, to help identify and connect with extended family to support child stability and create broader networks for those in foster care.
How to Legislate Love With Connection and Family Unification
The Imprint Youth & Family News
Provides an opinion article by a postdoctoral fellow at university of California, who also grew up in foster care. The article discusses why it’s important to seek out and maintain healthy connections for older youth in foster care, including those who age out of the system.
A Family For Every Child
Discusses A Family for Every Child's Family Finding program, which works to find safe, loving kin connections for youth in foster care to help create a lifelong support system for youth, help children learn about their family history, and reconnect them with loved ones.
Promoting Supportive, Lasting Adult Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care: Good Shepherd Services' Permanency Pact Program (PDF - 2,852 KB)
Good Shepherd Services, Redlich Horwitz Foundation (2018)
Highlights permanency pacts, which can be used to increase permanency by strengthening and formalizing existing relationships between a youth and a close adult. The paper provides an overview of the importance of having a supportive relationship with caring adults and existing efforts to support older youth as they transition to adulthood.
Sibling Connections in Foster Care, Why They're Important
Foster Care Alumni of America (2018)
Reviews the importance of sibling connections for children and youth in foster care and how sibling groups are more likely to be separated the longer they remain in care.
The Youth Connections Scale
Semanchin-Jones & LaLiberte (2018)
The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Describes the Youth Connections Scale, which identifies the quality and quantity of meaningful connections a youth has with caring adults. This tool can help child welfare agencies work with youth in foster care to strengthen and build relationships with others and a support network for relational permanence.
Fostering Advocates Arizona
Explains family finding services for youth in foster care in Arizona, which helps youth locate their families and family history. The resource includes steps to begin the search, links to search sites, searching tips, and more.
Helping Youth in Foster Care Maintain Important Connections
Examines the importance of keeping foster care youth connected with a network of supportive adults and how they can maintain these connections.
Real Connections Mentoring
Foster Forward (2019)
Offers a program in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families that connects foster youth ages 8 to 21 with adult role models who can provide guidance and emotional support to young people that need supportive connections in their lives.
Youth Connections Program
Indiana Department of Child Services (2019)
Explains the youth connections program in Indiana, which is a youth-led program dedicated to working with youth 14 and older in foster care who would like to form caring connections with adults. The program matches youth with a supportive adult and then helps them build a strong relationship.