The Value of Permanency
Permanency is critical for children who are placed in foster care. Permanency is a process that focuses on establishing connections and building both healthy and supportive relationships between the child and the adults in their lives. Permanency helps a child in foster care develop bonds and connect with their foster families. It also helps children transitioning from foster care into an adoptive home develop bonds with their forever families. Establishing permanency works to ensure safe, stable and long-lasting outcomes for children in foster care.
According to the University of Iowa Hospital’s and Clinic’s Report on the Effects of the Foster Care Placement on Young Children’s Mental Health, children in foster care sometimes do not put much validity into the relationships they have with their foster parents because they feel there is no point in forming bonds with those in the foster care system only if they will be moved again soon. Child welfare agencies hope to bridge the emotional disconnect between a child in foster care and their foster family by establishing permanency.
There are five goals associated with establishing and maintaining permanency: reunifying families, recruiting and retaining resource families, permanency with relatives/kin, guardianship, and adoption from foster care. The goals set depend on the circumstances surrounding the child’s placement in foster care.
Permanency gives children transitioning from foster care into an adoptive home many things. They receive (possibly for the first time in their lives) a central source of love, protection, stability, and something we all need in our lives: a sense of belonging. They can trust adults again after adults in their life may have made promises they couldn’t keep in the past. They now feel unconditional love from their family and know that they will be there for them no matter what. These positive results are only possible if a loving family is aware of the fact that a newly adopted child may not warm up to them for a while but is patient and is ready to undertake the necessary steps to bring down emotional barriers the child will most likely have upon arrival.
Probably the most important aspect of a permanent home is the level of support the child will gain in his or her endeavors. According to the “Moving Children Out of Foster Care” study by the National Conference of State Legislators, “this network of support can help a child perform well academically, have positive mental and overall health outcomes and make it more likely that they will develop good relationships and social skills that can enable them to become successful adults.”
The Barker Adoption Foundation believes that all children regardless of age deserve a safe, stable, and loving family. In 2017, of the almost 443, 000 children in the US foster care system, more than 28, 000 had case goals of emancipation or aging out after leaving foster care without a permanent family. The lack of permanency in foster care is a problem that Barker is working to solve. One of the ways in which Barker works to help older children in foster care find permanent families is through Project Wait No Longer. This program “seeks to find permanent, adoptive families for older children whose circumstances resulted in their being placed into the public foster care system”. PWNL works to connect older foster children with loving and supportive permanent families.
Permanency reduces the risks that children face when they age out of foster care: homelessness, lack of education and job training, lack of social connections, and substance abuse to name a few. Project Wait No Longer is unique in that it focuses on the adoption of older children who may soon age out of the foster care system. Through PWNL, Barker provides these children and their families with adequate lifetime support systems and the resources they need to support these children in a positive and healthy environment, that they might have otherwise lacked with their previous families.
Written by Caitlin Jacobs and Molly Dunlap