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Foster - Adoption and Infant Adoption: Changes in Practice. Adoption Connections Training Institute: OneWorld Neighborhood Third Annual International Conference on Post Adoption Services Cambridge, MA February 21, 2007. Some Statistics About Youth In Foster Care.
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Adoption Connections Training Institute: OneWorld Neighborhood
Third Annual International Conference on Post Adoption Services
February 21, 2007
AFCARS data, as of September, 2005, indicates that there are:
Nationally, 56% of the children and youth in care are children and youth of color:
32% African American; 18% Latino
Permanency planning involves a mix of:
All designed to help children and youth live in families that offer continuity of relationships with a nurturing parent(s) or caretakers coupled with the opportunity to establish lifetime relationships (Maluccio and Fein, 1993).
They’re always talking about this Permanency stuff. You know social workers. . .lawyers . . . always using these big social work terms to talk about simple things. One day one of them finally described what she meant by permanency.
After I listened to her description, which was the first time anyone ever told me what the term meant, I said, “Oh, that’s what you mean? Yeah, I want permanency in my life. I don’t think I ever had that! When can I get it?”
Foster care youth
Permanency flies in the face of typical adolescent development.
I want to be on my own!
I want my own crib!
I don’t want nobody telling me what to do!
I don’t want a family!
But . . . every youth needs life time connections with someone, not just for their childhood, but for their entire life!
Seven key foundational principles:
1. Recognize that every young person is entitled to a permanent family relationship, demonstrate that the agency is committed to achieving that goal, and include multiple systems and the community at large in the effort to identify and support such relationships.
2. Are driven by the young people themselves, in full partnership with their families and the agency in all decision-making and planning for their futures, recognizing that young people are the best source of information about their own strengths and needs.
3. Acknowledge that permanence includes: a stable, healthy and lasting living situation within the context of a family relationship with at least one committed adult; reliable, continuous and healthy connections with siblings, birth parents, extended family and a network of other significant adults; and education and/or employment, life skills, supports and services.
4. Begin at first placement. Efforts to effect reunification with the young person’s birth family must be made concurrently with immediate planning for other permanency options, ensuring stability when out-of-home placement is needed.
5. Honor the cultural, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious/spiritual backgrounds of young people and their families and respect differences in sexual orientation.
6. Recognize and build upon the strengths and resilience of young people, their parents, their families, and other significant adults.
7. Ensure that services and supports are provided in ways that are fair, responsive, and accountable to young people and their families, and do not stigmatize them, their families or their caregivers.
I always thought that I was adoptable even though I was 16 years old, but my social worker kept saying I was too old every time I asked him about it. I worked after-school at this hardware store and the guy who owned it was so kind to me. He was such a good guy and I always talked to him. I never really told him I was in foster care, but one day when we got to talking, he started to ask me a lot of questions about my family and then about life in foster care. I invited him to my case conference because my social worker said I could invite anyone who I wanted to, and at that point he asked about adoption. I was shocked at first, but it made sense. We finalized my adoption three months ago. That day was the happiest day of my life.
- Former foster youth
It is incumbent upon adults who have a relationship with the young person to help them to consider the option of lifetime connections by helping to reframe the initial “NO!” into a “YES” or “I’ll Think About it” response.
It may initially help the young person to review their past connections and experiences to help put their thoughts and feelings into context.
Helping youth to play an active role in their own planning and assisting them in developing a promising pathway to permanency that will be lifelong and sustaining can be a challenge, but it is not an unattainable goal.
Helping youth to consider permanency and lifetime connectedness only becomes possible when adults who work with young people are committed to facilitating the identification of connections in their lives.
Exploring the permanency option of adoption is a process, not a one time event.
What do you say instead of accepting NO
Carefully Review the Case Record
Review the youth’s entire case record in search of anyone who has done anything that could be construed as an expression of concern for the youth, including former foster parents, former neighbors or parents of friends, members of their extended families (aunts, uncles, cousins, older siblings), teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, group home staff, or independent living staff. Given that some youth have been in care for prolonged periods of time, case records can have many volumes – the entire record – all volumes should be explored in an effort to uncover clues about possible connections both past and present. Third party reviewers can be helpful in the process of uncovering these possible connections as case workers who have been assigned the case may inadvertently miss connections that may be more visible to as fresh eye.
February, 1999. State of Iowa. For a copy, email NRCFCPP (email@example.com) or on line at http://www.uiowa.edu/~nrcfcp/services/publication/teens.htm
Families for Teens.
March, 2000. State of Ohio. For a copy email NRCFCPP. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Permanency Planning: Creating Life Time Connections.
April, 2000. National report. For a copy download it from NRCYD web site (http://www.nrcys.ou.edu/fyi.htm)References & Resources
April, 2001. State of Oklahoma. For a copy, email NRCFCPP (email@example.com)
Foster Care: What Young People in the System Say is Working.
January, 2001. State of Washington, Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman. For a copy download from www.governor.wa.gov/ofcoReferences & Resources
December, 2001. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services For a copy, email Westat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Courtney, M., Piliavin, I., Grogan-Kaylor, A., & Nesmith, A. (2001). Foster Youth Transitions to Adulthood: A Longitudinal View of Youth Leaving Care, Child Welfare, 80, (6), 685-717.References & Resources
Adopted children, administrators, workers and advocates from across the country discuss the importance of adoption for adolescents and young adults and share successful strategies for finding homes and matching children with families.References & Resources
This handbook is designed to assist practitioners working with adolescents freed for adoption. It outlines the steps needed to plan for the future and to help them achieve their highest potential.
An organization that links foster care youth with caring adults and promotes life-long connectionsReferences & Resources
A guidebook for child welfare providers interested in developing skills in working toward permanency with adolescents.References & Resources
A guidebook for working with families to promote and prepare teens for permanent family connections.References & Resources
A toolbox for practitioners, policy-makers, and advocates for promoting permanency and life-time connections for older adolescents. www. cwla.orgReferences & Resources
Gerald P. Mallon, DSW, Director
The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning
Hunter College School of Social Work
A Service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF\DHHS
129 East 79th Street
New York, New York 10021
(212) 452-7043 – Direct Line (212) 452-7475 - Fax