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Dec/Jan 2010Vol. 10, No. 10Making APPLA Work for Youth

For many youth in out-of-home care, the court may determine at a permanency hearing that there is a compelling reason that reunification, adoption, guardianship, and relative placement are not in the child's best interests. If the court makes such a finding, it may order another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) as the permanency goal for the child. A publication from the Iowa Department of Human Services, Permanency for Children: Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement: Practice Bulletin, focuses on promoting practices that can make APPLA as a permanency goal truly permanent for children and not just a synonym for long-term foster care.

Generally, APPLA is viewed as an appropriate permanency goal only for some older youth, age 16 or older. For children for whom this goal is being considered, it is expected that the youth will participate in the team meeting that establishes the permanency plan. In addition, the planned permanent living arrangement must:

  • Be a permanent living arrangement with a foster parent or relative caregiver or other suitable person
  • Include written commitment from all the parties involved or an order of the court, with the expectation that the child remain in that placement until he or she reaches the age of majority

Examples of permanent living arrangements include the following:

  • With foster parents who have made a formal written commitment to care for the child until adulthood
  • With relatives who plan to care for the child until adulthood
  • In appropriate agency-supervised transitional living, with the expectation that the child will successfully transition to young adulthood

The bulletin provides practical guidance for structuring placements that will give youth permanent and stable places to call home until they reach adulthood. It stresses that lifelong connections should be in place and stable long before a youth transitions out of foster care. In addition, skill development for young adulthood needs to be finalized so the child has the best chance for success.

Resources provided by the bulletin include a permanency checklist, examples of cases when it is inappropriate to use APPLA as a permanency goal, and recommendations from youth for improving practice.

The publication is one of a series of child welfare bulletins and is available on the Iowa Department of Human Services website: (368 KB)