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April 2010Vol. 11, No. 3Providing Social Capital in Permanency Planning

Research on adolescents' transition to adulthood confirms the importance of "social capital" in the form of support from parents and others in order for youth to become independent adults. According to a recent article in the Children and Youth Services Review, a lack of social capital is the problem with many programs that promote Independent Living for youth aging out of the foster care system with no permanent connections to adults.

The article goes on to describe a promising practice model established through a Children's Bureau Grant with the You Gotta Believe! program. Located in New York City, this program used a "social capital-building approach" to establish the Permanent Parents for Teens Program and find families who would adopt teens from foster care. Permanency Action Recruitment Teams were used to engage teens and all those involved in their lives, including social workers, staff, and relatives in setting goals for permanency prior to their exit. Teens without potential permanency options were invited to participate in a variety of activities with prospective families.

Other components of the program included:

  • Staff trainings emphasizing the importance of permanency and empowering staff to seek out potential permanency options for youth
  • Parent trainings provided in a flexible structure
  • Postplacement services using experienced adoptive parents

Results show that almost 50 percent of referred teens were permanently placed, and 63 percent of the 120 adults who completed the parent training had teens placed with them. Adults already known to particular youth had the highest completion rate for trainings and placement.

The article, "An Examination of Theory and Promising Practice for Achieving Permanency for Teens Before They Age Out of Foster Care," by Rosemary Avery, was published in Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 32, and is available for download from the You Gotta Believe! website: (256 KB)