• June 2021
  • Vol. 22, No. 6

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The Relationship Between Permanency Outcomes and Placement With Family

A recent Casey Family Programs report—the third volume of the From Data to Practice series—presents findings on a study that evaluated whether placement with family impacts legal and relational permanency outcomes for youth. The findings indicated that placement with family is associated with increased permanency and shortened lengths of time in care.

The study population comprised 513 youth who entered Casey out-of-home care (OOHC) between July 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017. At the time the youth came into Casey OOHC, they were not living with family, which is defined as biological family, kin, or fictive kin in this study.

Researchers used the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool to measure the needs and well-being over time of youth who entered Casey OOHC. Relational permanency, or the presence of stable relationships that help a child feel loved and connected, was assessed by evaluating the relational permanency measurement in CANS at the time of entry and exit. Researchers also tracked legal permanency—reunification, adoption, or guardianship—and examined whether level of need at exit and relationship permanency contributed to legal permanency.

Findings show that youth who came into care not placed with family but who were moved to a family placement while in Casey OOHC were more likely to obtain both relational and legal permanency than those who were not placed with family. These findings further point to the importance of family-finding efforts. Child welfare agencies have a better chance of expediting the process of moving youth to family and eventual permanency, which is more beneficial for their well-being, by taking the following steps:

  • Designating a family-finding position that will engage community volunteers in every office to help find families for youth in care
  • Taking a "coaching from the middle" approach in which Casey staff can support multidisciplinary team members to make timely permanency-related decisions
  • Expanding programming to include services to support youth identity development, emotional healing, and other prosocial growth as well as in-home parent and relative coaching services
  • Building capacity for in-home and prevention work to prevent out-of-home placement

For more information, read From Data to Practice: Moving Youth to Family – Level of Need and the Impact on Legal and Relational Permanency.


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