It might be impossible for a day to go by in our offices without someone mentioning permanency. CFCS’s Permanency Priority, initiated in 2017, is intended to strengthen our permanency efforts across all departments. Permanency, as defined by our partners Plummer Youth Promise, means that every young person has a family unconditionally committed to nurture, protect, and guide them to successful adulthood. But even with this definition, our efforts to create permanency look different in each of our departments. Today, we will look at the difference our strengthened permanency efforts have made in the results of our Intensive Foster Care (IFC) Program.
When youth leave the program, our goal is always to have them transition into a more stable, permanent situation, either through reunification with their biological family, adoption with a forever family, or some other form of permanent situation with a supportive, life-long connection. Sometimes, youth need more intensive services than our community-based foster families can provide, so the youth leave our program to go to more intensive, restrictive placements (such as hospitalizations or residential programs) where they can receive a higher level of care. We try to avoid this, but sometimes it’s unavoidable for safety reasons.
Similar numbers of youth were served by the IFC program in 2017 and 2018, with similar numbers of youth being discharged from the program each year. In 2017, 38% of the youth we served discharged to a placement with a high potential for permanency, such as a pre-adoptive home or reunification with their biological family, while another 38% of youth had discharged to a higher level of care. In contrast, in 2018, 92% of youth that were discharged moved into a placement with high potential for permanency, and no discharged youth needed to move to a higher level of care.
While we’re still building our data collection system, we’re hopeful that this positive change indicates that our new permanency efforts in IFC are achieving three crucial things:
1. Identify permanent, supportive relationships for youth who may not have biological family members they can easily rely on.
2. Encourage youth’s providers (such as social workers, foster parents, and school professionals) to work more closely with families to overcome their challenges and strengthen factors that promote permanency.
3. Stabilize our youth and provide them with a level of security that helps them to effectively transition to lifelong permanency.
We are proud of this new improvement in our practice, and we intend to sustain it and help it grow. As CFCS provides a wide continuum of care and family services, the work that our IFC program does sometimes overlaps with our Adoption and Family Support & Stabilization Programs, who have been strengthening their own permanency efforts. We look forward to seeing over the next few years how our new practices are creating more positive lasting change for the youth and communities we serve.