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Dec/Jan 2010Vol. 10, No. 10Youth Contribute to Study on Youth Permanency Experiences

Youth who age out of foster care are in the best position to comment on the needs of this population. A recent study on youth aging out of care, Developing Permanent, Supportive Connections While in Care: Foster Youth's Perspectives, sought to maximize youth involvement in this research. As part of the study, a Youth Advisory Board of four former foster youth developed research questions, oversaw the data collection, and assisted with reviewing and editing the final report. The study itself sought information from 27 youth about the child welfare services for permanency they had received while in care. Information was gathered through interviews and focus groups, and data were collected about the processes, services, and support the youth received for developing relationships with adults. Most youth reported that they had not received support from their child welfare workers about making connections to family or other adults while they were in foster care.

Main themes from the findings included the following:

  • Lack of discussion about family placement options
  • Youth not wanting to be placed with family
  • Giving youth choices about placement
  • Connections to siblings who were also in foster care
  • The effects of mental health issues on permanency
  • Weak relationships with social workers
  • Mentors in the community as permanent connections

The study recommends actions that child welfare agencies can take, including the following:

  • Implementing "Family and Permanent Connection Finding" services for youth in foster care who are not placed with kin, especially those over age 13
  • Training new social workers, supervisors, and managers about the importance of promoting family placements
  • Assigning siblings in foster care the same social worker
  • Ensuring all foster care youth have a voice in their placements
  • Linking youth with mentors in the community

Developing Permanent, Supportive Connections While in Care: Foster Youth's Perspectives, by Sonja T. Lenz-Rashid, is available on the Child & Family Policy Institute of California website: (545 KB)