Promoting Permanency for Teens: A 50 State Review of Law and Policy.
Johnson, Anna. Speiglman, Richard. Mauldon, Jane. Grimm, Bill. Perry, Miranda.
National Center for Youth Law.
Published: February 2018
National Center for Youth Law
405 14th Street, 15th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Tel: (510) 835-8098
Fax: (510) 835-8099
This report explores the diversity of State policies and practices for teens in foster care in two potentially competing areas: teens’ need for a permanent connection to a family (either their birth family, or an adoptive or guardian family), and teens’ developmental and practical needs in transitioning to legal adulthood, independence, and self-sufficiency. It summarizes State policies that promote teen permanency and identifies barriers that hinder the permanent connection of teens through reunification, adoption, or guardianship. The review flags vague policies that allow for broad discretion and possible disparate outcomes in recognition of the fact that some policies and practices can disadvantage teens based on their age, race, ethnicity, placement type, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors. The project involved the use of three primary forms of data collection: a 50-state survey, additional interviews in 10 States, and legal research. Five key elements of successful teen permanency policies are identified and recommendations to States are made, including: require a robust and ongoing search for relatives and other meaningful adults who will care for the teen; require parental visitation at least once a week, with emphasis on the importance of daily visitation and contact for all teens for whom reunification is a primary permanency goal; require monthly permanency planning and family finding services that include the teen and the teen’s chosen representatives’ input and participation; remove financial and service barriers to permanency for teens; and require ongoing, active, and documented searches for teens who are missing from care, using dedicated personnel. 6 tables and 51 references.
permanency; foster children; foster care drift; family reunification; visitation; barriers; state laws; adoption; kinship care; child welfare services; child welfare reform