• Dec 2011/Jan 2012
  • Vol. 12, No. 9

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Permanency Strategies for Older Youth

The percentage of youth emancipating from foster care has been steadily increasing. In 2010, 11 percent of exits from foster care were through emancipation. Many of these youth struggle with negative outcomes such as poor educational attainment, incarceration, and early parenthood. Despite benefits mandated by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, many Federal and State programs fail to adequately provide for this population.

A new report from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, Never Too Old: Achieving Permanency and Sustaining Connections for Older Youth in Foster Care, by Jeanne A. Howard and Stephanie Berzin, provides background information and statistics on emancipation of youth from foster care, examines the social and policy context, and reviews the litany of poor outcomes that these youth often face across different domains. Later chapters highlight best practices and strategies by reviewing the different permanency options, including adoption, subsidized guardianship, reinstating parental rights, and helping youth make other permanent connections. The authors provide examples of successful permanency programs around the country.

The report makes a number of policy and practice recommendations, not just for achieving permanency, but for helping youth develop lasting connections necessary for a healthy transition to adulthood. Recommendations include:

  • Policy and practice should reflect current knowledge from the field, and recent innovations should be tested for effectiveness in achieving permanency.
  • Efforts should be increased to recruit, support, and utilize relatives as a source of permanency.
  • Efforts should be made to further develop and assess practices that reduce the amount of time children remain in care without permanence. 
  • True permanency goals should be established for every youth in care.

Research needs to be significantly expanded to better understand policies and practices that promote youth permanence and well-being.

The full report along with an executive summary can be accessed on the Adoption Institute website:


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