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March 2014Vol. 15, No. 3Caseworker Perspectives on APPLA

In 1997, with the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, Congress eliminated long-term foster placement as a permanency option. There was widespread belief that all children and youth needed and deserved a permanent family. Due to concerns about some children and youth, when legal permanency as defined in Federal laws was not appropriate, Congress included a new permanency goal as "another planned permanent living arrangement" (APPLA). A 2013 article in the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal examined caseworker perspectives on APPLA, including strengths and challenges in service provision, agency support, and the meaning of permanency. Information was collected during five focus groups with child welfare caseworkers located throughout the country, including both urban and rural locations.

Various themes emerged from the study:

  • The age of youth, extreme youth behaviors, and poor family situations often contribute to an APPLA designation.
  • Work with APPLA-designated youth tends to be more intensive than work with younger or non-APPLA youth, often because of the youth's mental health and behavioral issues.
  • Caseworkers often believe that they do not receive adequate system or agency support in working with APPLA-designated youth.
  • Caseworkers generally could not specify many strategies used in their agencies for finding permanent legal placements for APPLA-designated youth.
  • Caseworkers believe APPLA-designated youth need more and better Independent Living services.

The authors also list several recommendations for practice and policy.

"Improving Permanency: Caseworker Perspectives of Older Youth in Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement," by Karen W. Tao, Kristin J. Ward, Kirk O’Brien, Paul DiLorenzo, and Susan Kelly, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 30, 2013, is available for purchase through the publisher's website: