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									     Youth Permanency and
Positive Youth Development

        A Paradigm Merge

               Sarah Cedano
            Michelle Chalmers
                 Kim Stevens
   Andrew I am looking for a family who will love
    and support me, but not judge me.
   Andy I have not given up hope for a family who
    will be there for me throughout my adult life.
   Ashley I'm 15, and I have been waiting years for
    a new family. I'd like to think there's one out
    there for me. Could you be the one for me?
   Brady I really like new experiences and learning
    new things. I am very kind and hope to join a
    family that is kind and reliable.
   Bryce What I really want in a family is love,
    caringness and support.
   Chris & Amanda We need somewhere to feel secure
    and to have someone to talk to and to not be worrying
    about moving.
   Jason I am hoping to find a family to adopt me so that I
    have a place to call home and I can get a chance for a
    new start.
   Lauren I want a family who can stand by me and love
   Malcolm What I want in a family is them to be nice,
    active in sports, have kids I could play with, have a job,
    be successful, and understand me. And have pets.
   Robert & Jasmine We're hoping there's a family out
    there looking for us.
Recovery can take place only
within the context of relationships;
it cannot occur in isolation.”

“…...Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the
  survivor and the creation of new connections.
                                    Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery
Parental support ages 18 to 34
   Youth receive substantial help from their parents. On average, for
    youth both living at home and living
   independently, parents provide roughly $38,000 in material
    assistance for food, housing, education, or direct cash
   assistance throughout the transition to adulthood (ages 18–34).
    This averages to approximately $2,200 annually.
   Time expenditures are equally significant. For youth aged 18–34
    living away from home, nearly half receive
   parental time assistant in a given year, averaging 367 hours, or
    nine weeks of full-time, 40-hour-per-week help.

Robert Schoeni and Karen Ross, Family Support during the Transition to Adulthood
Network on Transitions to Adulthood, Policy Brief, October 2004, Issue 12
    The role of every concerned adult
   in the life of a youth whose parents’
rights have been terminated is to either:

          Maintain or
       the youth’s relationships
        with significant people.
Why focus on permanence?
   “… adolescents in foster care rarely have access to the type of
    sustained support provided by most families of origin…(T)he
    family safety net for young people aging-out of care may be
    nonexistent, problematic, or, at best, capable of limited and
    sporadic support.”

   “Poor outcomes for youth leaving foster homes or group care
    may be related to the lack of ongoing support from parents long
    beyond the child and adolescent years.”

         Collins, Mary Elizabeth. 2001. Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Youths:
            A Review of Research and Implications for Policy. Social Service Review.
Achieving permanency for
teens looks different…

 appropriate strategies
 are required
 Basic adolescent needs
 addressed through
 Positive Youth Development
   A sense of competence
   A sense of usefulness
   A sense of belonging
   A sense of power

True participation…occurs when… initiated by youth and decision-making is shared among
youth and adults. [Experiences] empower youth while at the same time enabling them to
access and learn from the life experience and expertise of adults.*

* Children’s Participation; From Tokenism to Citizenship, Roger Hart, UNICEF
Positive Youth Development Is…

   •   Intentional
   •   Strengths-Based
   •   Capacity-Focused
   •   Relevant
   •   Respectful
All youth need to…
   Feel a sense of safety and structure
   Experience belonging
   Develop self-worth through meaningful contribution
   Develop relationships with peers and adults
   Discuss conflicting values and form their own
   Discover self
   Gain independence and control
   Expand their capacity to enjoy life
   Know that success is possible
   Feel the pride of competence and mastery
They will find ways to meet these
needs -

with or without the guidance
of caring adults
Positive Youth Development
in child welfare
Practices that simultaneously

   Work towards achieving permanency goals,

   Providing developmental experiences for the
    youth that help them prepare for adulthood
    and civic engagement
Achieving permanency for
teens looks different…
Developmentally appropriate strategies

Engaging youth in
    1. case planning
    2. family recruitment/youth preparation
    3. system improvement
Engaging youth in their own
case planning
   No decision about me, without me!
   Present at all staffing, court or goal setting
   Suggestions for possible resources
   Assure they understand permanency
   Help develop recruitment materials
   Video, radio, cable t.v. and other media
Engaging youth in their own
case planning
   Develop own method for „screening‟
    potential families
   Two-way commitment
   Lifebooks, collect history, photos, case
   Listen to them, especially when request
    kin search
   1:1 time to get all questions answered,
    explore concept of permanence
   Participate in planning for transition- timing
    is key
Successful permanency work
with teens depends on

   Belief in the process and outcomes
   Willingness to work as a team
   Including birth family in process (immediate and
   Youth as directors of process
   Process determines the outcome
   Child‟s sense of time
                                                        80% of youth in study
                                                         were in touch with at least
                                                         one member of their
                                                         biological families.
                                                              Festinger, Trudy. 1983. No One Ever
                                                            Asked Us: A Post Script to Foster Care.

   One positive outcome
                                                        96% of youth in study
    among former foster                                  reported having at least
    youths is their ability to                           one person in their lives
    identify a social network.                           who provided a strong
    Cook, Ronna. 1994. Children and Youth Services       close relationship.
    Review.                                                 Mallon, Gerald P. 1998. Child Welfare.
Who Can Teens Have as
   Social Worker              Big Brother/Sister
   Child Care Worker          Mentor
   School Staff               GAL/CASA
   Faith Community            Attorney
   Birth Family Members       Coach
   Former Foster Parents      Physician
   Employer                   Bus Driver
   Therapist                  Residential Staff
   Best Friend‟s Mother       Kin Network
Our Challenge…
   If the only people our youth interact with on a
    regular basis are paid to be there, how can
    we then tell the youth that they can‟t have
    ongoing relationships with those people?
   The challenge is to change the policy – not to
    deny the connections
   The challenge is to engage the youth in
    community interaction; not to deny them
    those opportunities for potential relationships
    in a natural environment
   “Acceptance of a new relationship is developed
    in carefully paced steps that are non-
    threatening. Ideally the youngster comes to
    acknowledge that he wants the relationship to
    happen and is not being forced into it.”
        Beverly James, Treatment of Attachment-Trauma Problems in
Engaging youth
Family Recruitment and Training
   Training prospective families
   The very act of talking with adults about teen
    permanence helps individual youth
    themselves prepare for permanent family.
   In Minnesota we have seen dramatic
    increase in families requesting youth aged 13
    and older for adoption.
Some feedback from OVM
adult audiences
•Hearing them say it their way it is from their heart, being
very honest
•Their honesty and positive attitude – both are very
mature, articulate, and humorous – they are true model of
•Having the youth have center stage – they were so
brilliant – mature and wise
•The candidness of the presenters and their experiences
•Areas where improvement/training/services can help
•Feeling of children that no one in their lives were listening
to them – social worker – guardian ad litem – not really
knowing them
Some feedback from OVM
adult audiences
•This should be required training piece for all
families waiting to adopt
•Learning that the placed kids will test you, but to
hang in there.
•The kids‟ voices were so strong
•Views on meeting new family
•Views on system changes
•They told us that there are good and bad days –
being there for them most important
•Great to hear that teenagers want to be adopted
    Questions Generated by Youth
    and Young Adult Panel
The following questions were developed as a tool for workers to use with potential permanent parents and
    share with waiting teens as a support in helping teens make decisions about taking the risk to join a new

   Can you afford to / will you send me to college? If I don’t want to go is that ok?
    Will you help me figure out what I want to do?
   Can you show and have respect for a teenager? How will you show it?
   Can you meet a teens needs? How will you do it?
   What kind of child do you want? One that wants just a mother? Just a father?
    Other siblings? What kind of personality? Does it matter if the child is gay or
   Are you part of a same sex couple? How will that affect you parenting?
   Are you married? Dating? Are you hoping to be? How will that affect the way you
    care for me? Are committed to me?
   Will you still be my family even if something gets in the way? Like if the court
    holds things up? If I am not free for adoption? If I want to be connected to my
    birth family or other people? How will you show me that I am still part of your

                                   Adoption Exchange Meeting ~ Batavia, NY 19 July 2006
    Questions Generated by Youth
    and Young Adult Panel, cont..
   How do you discipline? What did you do when you were the maddest at a kid?
   How were you disciplined? What did you think about that method?
   How did you get along with/relate to your parents when you were a teen? Other
   What were you teenage years like in general? Do you expect other kid’s (your
    kid’s) teen years to be the same?
   How do show affection to a child or teenager? How do you accept and expect
    them to show affection?
   Please provide a letter of reference from a youth who has known you for a while.
    From a former foster child.
   Have you been a parent? For how long? For how many kids? How old are
    (were) they? Why did kids leave your care (if they did)?
   Why do you want to parent a teenager? What do you hope to get? To give?
    What’s your favorite thing about teenagers?
   When there are problems between new kids and kids that are already in the
    family, how will you handle them?
                                                      Adoption Exchange Meeting ~ Batavia, NY 19 July 2006
    Questions Generated by Youth
    and Young Adult Panel, cont..
   Do I need to be perfect or can I make mistakes? What happens if I make big
   Can I get my license? Drive the family car? Buy my own?
   Will you let me keep my friends? See my siblings and have them visit?Stay
    connected to my birth family?
   How will you react if I can’t live in the family for a while? For a long while?
   Will you bring foster kids on vacation with you? To holidays or special
   What do you think your first reaction to me will be? How will you try to make me
    feel comfortable? Part of the family? Accepted?
   What do you understand about normal adolescent sexuality? Are you
    comfortable talking about it or accepting it? Can I date someone of the same
    gender? What does dating mean to you - what‟s ok at what age?
   How will my age and order in the family change things?
   If your child has a mental or physical disability will you still be there? If they are
    in residential placement? In hospital? In jail or juvenile custody?
                                                           Adoption Exchange Meeting ~ Batavia, NY 19 July 2006
And the good news….
   “Our adoption exchange worked for one child
    in Niagara county who had said an emphatic
    NO to adoption - we just learned yesterday
    that she changed her mind after that event
    and the adoption is proceeding!”
Efforts in Minnesota
   Waiting and adopted youth spoke at
    prospective parent orientations and trainings
   Showed “We Interrupt”
   Explicit conversation, beginning day one, of
    the need for families for teens
   Media stories profiling waiting teen
   Get message out about existence of older
    waiting kids, want families, open to all family
What you can do NOW…
   Ensure that youth are included as real partners on boards,
    planning committees, etc.; use language that includes and
    respects them
   Ask every youth who they see themselves connected to 1, 3,
    5, 7 years from now and help make it happen
   Don‟t let potential adults get away - when folks call with
    interest, but are not ready to foster or adopt, create avenues
    for them to be mentors, educational or vocational advocates,
    employers, coaches, respite providers…
   Push back on policies and practices that prevent youth from
    sustaining relationships; i.e. no visits if you aren‟t “on level”
   Allow youth to self-select on boards, panels, advocacy
    groups - do not just select the best and brightest
   Engage youth in acting as mentors for younger children in
youth in
   Group home non-public school bill AB 1858 on Sept 30, 2004
   Improving the Independent Living Program - AB 1979 (Steinberg, Chapter 271, Statutes of 2002)
    on August 26, 2002.
   Support for Emancipated Youth signed AB 427 (Hertzberg, Chapter 125, Statutes of 2001) on July
    30, 2001.
   Foster Youth Rights AB 899 (Liu, Chapter 683, Statutes of 2001) consolidates all of the rights of
    foster children into a common location in California law. It also requires social workers to inform youth
    of their rights at least once every six months. Finally, AB 899 requires the list of rights to be posted in
    facilities that care for six or more foster children.
   Extended Medi-Cal for Former Foster Youth
   Maintaining Sibling Togetherness AB 1987 (Steinberg, Chapter 909, Statutes of 2000). This law
    requires social workers to include in court reports a section on the child‟s sibling relationships and the
    plans for visitation of siblings. It also requires social workers to notify children on their caseload of
    significant events in the lives of siblings.
   State Foster Care Ombudsman SB 933 (Thompson, Chapter 311, Statutes of 1998).
   Post-adoption contact with siblings AB 2196 (Washington, Chapter 1072, Statutes of 1997)
   Driver’s Licenses AB 2691 (Areias, Chapter 865, Statutes of 1992)
   Transitional Housing Program AB 1198 (Bates, Chapter 799, Statutes of 1993)
   Foster Care Independence Act HR 3443 (Chaffee). Federal legislation passed in November, l999
National Youth in Care Network -
Annual Report 2005

 About the National Youth in Care NetworkQuick
  Links In Canada, there are over 80,000 children and
  youth in the care of child welfare system. An additional
  25,000 youth are in detention centres and youth justice
  facilities. Countless more are in mental health
Research publications available from
Canadian Youth in care Network
   Who Will Teach Me To Learn: Creating Positive School Experiences for Youth
    In Care (2001). One of the first steps in understanding how to support youth in care
    throughout their high school education. (Report, 30 Pages).

   Pain...Lots of Pain: Family Violence and Abuse in the Lives of Young People In
    Care (1993). Combines the professional literature on family violence with the actual
    experiences of young people as told by them through a series of in-depth interviews.
    (Book, 133 Pages).

   Into The Hands of Youth: Youth In and From Care Identify Healing Needs
    (1996). Youth discuss their experiences with violence and abuse and explore the use
    and development of peer-led, community-based ways of promoting healing. (Report,
    33 Pages).

   The Chemical Management of Canadian Systems Youth (2006). Are drugs being
    inappropriately prescribed to children and youth as an easy and cheap way to deal
    with real healing needs, resulting in adult drug addictions? These questions and more
    are explored through qualitative interviews. (Preliminary Research Report).

   Broken Fairytales - Teenage Parenting and the Child Welfare System in Care:
    Research Report (2004). Findings from research conducted with youth who are
    raising children while in the care system. Companion research report to
Raising Voices for Change
   An opportunity for
    positive youth
       Uniting for friendship,
        support, growth, fun      Master    Participant

   An advocacy group for
                                  Teacher    Student
    system reform
       Uniting to work for
        themselves and
        other youth
The role of Peer Leaders
Youth Self Advocacy

    Provide opportunities for youth referred to interact
     with Team members that joined a permanent family
     as an adolescent or young adult
    Develop multiple opportunities for shared discussion
     and reflection about hopes, fears, pros, cons and
     implications of choices related to family
    Offer referred youth membership in Speak Out
     groups, including ongoing mentoring as peer
     leaders to other youth being referred to the project
     in the future
   Youth Permanency and Positive
   Youth Development
   A Paradigm Merge
Sarah Cedano
919-353-5409 Michelle Chalmers
                   The Homecoming Project
                                     Kim Stevens
                                     Raising Children‟s Voices
       Prepared for the 5th Convening on Adolescent Permanence
       Hosted by Casey Family Services, October 2006

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