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Dec/Jan 2010Vol. 10, No. 10Barriers to Permanency After TPR

While termination of parental rights (TPR) can be a barrier to permanency for children who cannot return to their birth families, there are many other barriers that may delay or prevent permanency even after TPR has been achieved. A recent article published in Research on Social Work Practice examined barriers to adoption of children after TPR. The authors of "Vulnerability to Foster Care Drift After the Termination of Parental Rights" reviewed the cases of 640 children and conducted indepth research on 145 cases. Data were gathered in multiple categories, including current placement, permanency goals, history of goal changes, reasons for changes, history of residential treatment, and other related areas.

The authors found that a number of variables were associated with delayed adoption or no adoption. Younger females and those of Hispanic origin were more likely to be adopted than older children and male children. The strongest association was found between time out of the home and age. Every year in foster care equaled an 80 percent reduction in likelihood of adoption.

Emotional and behavior problems also affected adoption: Of the children not adopted during the study, 92 percent had recorded emotional or behavioral problems. Agency factors also played a role: Children whose social workers changed were 44 percent less likely to be adopted. Those placed before TPR were adopted in a little over half the time of those who were not placed at TPR.

The authors suggest that it is important for case managers to be aware of the time that passes after TPR. They need to work to ease foster parents' concerns toward adopting their foster children, and they themselves must be careful about transferring cases too quickly.

"Vulnerability to Foster Care Drift After the Termination of Parental Rights," by Gretta Cushing and Sarah B. Greenblatt, was published in Research on Social Work Practice, Vol. 19(6), and is available for purchase online from the publisher: