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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Kick-Off for the Permanency Innovations Initiative

The Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII), formerly known as the Initiative to Reduce Long-Term Foster Care (LTFC), aims to improve outcomes for subgroups of children who have the most serious barriers to permanency. Over the next 5 years, the Children's Bureau will invest $100 million in individual projects, technical assistance (TA), and site-specific and cross-site evaluation to test innovative approaches and develop knowledge about what works to improve outcomes for these children and youth.

In his opening remarks at the grantee kick-off meeting in December, ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels stated that this is a Presidential initiative with high expectations, and Samuels charged the grantees with maintaining a laser focus on specific target populations at highest risk of languishing in the foster care system. These projects will test new approaches to reducing long-term foster care placements for children with high rates of long-term placement. The funds distributed over the next 5 years will go to six grantees across the country:

  • The Arizona Department of Economic Security will provide intensive services to Native American and African American adolescents in the central region of Arizona (Pinal and Eastern Maricopa County) to prepare them for permanency. The Project Director is Janice Mickens (
  • The California Department of Social Services will convene a partnership of State, local, and nonprofit agencies in the four pilot counties of Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara to reduce LTFC for African-American and Native American youth. The Project Director is Karen Gunderson (
  • The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will provide trauma-focused therapy for youth ages 9-12 who are at high risk of LTFC and will train children's caregivers, involve their birth parents, and locate other relatives who can provide potential placements. The Project Director is Twana Cosey (
  • The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center will create a countywide system of care to address barriers to permanency and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning children and youth who are in or at risk of placement in foster care, placement in the juvenile justice system, or homelessness. The Project Director is Curtis Shepard (
  • The University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., will partner with four private providers of family preservation and family reunification services throughout Kansas to expedite permanency for children with severe emotional disturbances. The Project Director is Tom McDonald (
  • The Washoe County, Nevada, Department of Social Services will implement a Safety Intervention Permanency System through the integration of two intervention strategies to keep children safe, prevent them from coming into care, and improve permanency outcomes for subgroups of children experiencing the most serious barriers to permanency. The Project Director is Jim Durand (

The projects are now in an intensive planning phase, with implementation and evaluation plans due to be completed by July 2011. TA will be provided at the organization and systems levels, addressing strategic planning, infrastructure development, effective collaboration, organization and systems development, change management, leadership, implementation, effective communication, knowledge dissemination, and transfer. Site-specific and cross-site evaluations will be conducted by an external evaluator, who will also provide evaluation-related TA and data support to the grantees.

For more information, contact Federal Project Officer Matthew McGuire: