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May 2014Vol. 15, No. 5Associate Commissioner's Page

The following is the monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message focuses on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

This month, we celebrate the good work being done around the country to help the nearly 400,000 children and youth in out-of-home care achieve permanence. The Children's Bureau, with its information service Child Welfare Information Gateway and other partners, sponsors the National Foster Care Month initiative each year. The 2014 theme, "Building Blocks Toward Permanent Families," highlights the six building blocks that form the fundamental practices for supporting permanence for children, youth, and families:

  1. Building family and community connections
  2. Enhancing well-being for children, youth, and families
  3. Engaging families in case planning
  4. Enriching caseworker and family visits
  5. Strengthening families through permanence
  6. Supporting families and caregivers through services

The Children’s Bureau firmly believes that all children deserve permanent, loving families and all children need and can achieve permanency. The Bureau is committed to these goals and to ensuring that all children and youth have opportunities to become successful, productive adult citizens. We are especially focused on the youth in foster care—the 12–17 year olds who comprise one-third of the foster care population and who are in danger of leaving foster care without a permanent family. In recent years, a number of Federal initiatives and grant programs have made strides in helping these youth.

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) created the Family Connection Grants Program to help children who are in, or at-risk of entering, foster care to reconnect with family. In 2010, the Children's Bureau committed to awarding $100 million over 5 years to six grantees to test innovative approaches to improving outcomes for youth in foster care. My "Associate Commissioner's Page" in the March issue of CBX highlighted these Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) grants, which aim to improve outcomes for subgroups of children, like older youth, who have the most serious barriers to permanency.

While many in the field are focused on helping youth who transition out of foster care to independence, our goal should be ensuring that no one ages out of care. No one is too old for permanency. Proving this point is a video from our National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC), titled "Connect the Dots," that highlights Casey's story. Casey, a teenage boy who moved from foster homes to group homes and even experienced homelessness, found a permanent relationship with Martin, a mentor at a behavioral school in Bangor, ME, and later Casey's adoptive father. The NRCPFC also offers a publication specifically aimed at permanence for older youth and young adults. Facilitating an Adult Adoption as a Pathway to Permanence for Older Youth, can be found here: 

Organizations like You Gotta Believe—the only organization in New York City that limits its practice to finding permanent families for young adults, teens, and preteens in foster care—are also working to help the vulnerable population of young adults in (or formerly in) foster care find permanent, loving families. While Independent Living is a set of services and skills that should be provided based on a young person's developmental needs, it is not a permanency option. Casey Family Programs designed a specific intervention targeting the permanency planning process for youth. Casey’s Permanency Roundtables are structured meetings that involve various experts and promote "outside the box" thinking about permanence. More information on this intervention is available on the Casey Family Programs website:

Some permanency success stories for older youth were shared by PII and Fostering Connection grantees in the Real-Life Stories section of the 2014 National Foster Care Month website. One real-life story shared by PII grantee the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services highlights the story of a teenage boy found love and support through kinship care with his grandmother. Read his story here:

To read all of the 2014 real-life stories and find resources for youth, caregivers, and professionals that support efforts to strengthen families throughout the permanence process, visit the National Foster Care Month website:

The building blocks highlighted in the 2014 National Foster Care Month initiative create strong foundations for children, youth, and families involved with child welfare. No matter the end goal of a child's permanency plan, we hope our work at the Federal level helps your work at the State, Tribal, and local levels in achieving permanence and well-being for all children in foster care.