Spotlight on Planning and Supporting Permanency With Youth

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Planning and Supporting Permanency With Youth

NAM 2021

National Adoption Month offers an opportunity to reflect on the role of legal and relational permanency in the lives of young people. While legal permanency achieved through reunification, guardianship, or adoption is critical, youth with experience in child welfare underscore the importance of a network of consistent, loving relationships (i.e., relational permanency) as well.  

This year’s National Adoption Month theme, Every Conversation Matters, reminds us of the importance of permanency planning processes in which youths’ feelings about permanency, including concerns, are explored honestly through multiple, developmentally appropriate conversations over time. Centering youth voice and choice in permanency planning through ongoing dialogue can help agencies as they work to strike the balance between timely permanency and a thoughtful, intentional permanency process. While timelines can create pressure, the clearest pathway toward legal and relational permanency is through a youth-centered process in which caseworkers have the skills and the time to both listen and accept youth’s perspectives and priorities. 

Take a moment to consider what steps you can take (or that you have taken) to start an ongoing conversation grounded in the belief that legal and relational permanency are possible for every youth in care, regardless of their age. Partnering with youth in permanency planning offers a range of benefits, including the development of permanent networks that can serve as a buffer against potential challenges as they arise. 


How do agency leaders know if their agency is ready to use data and evidence effectively? To explore readiness, they must consider facts such as:  

  • 121,402 children and youth were waiting to be adopted on October 1, 2019[1].
  • The percentage of youth adopted within 3 years of becoming eligible for adoption decreases significantly with age—from 84% of children aged 0–8 to 27% of youth aged 14 or older[2].
  • Permanency is associated with a reduced risk of homelessness, improved economic status, better health outcomes, and reduced involvement with the criminal justice system[3], [4].


The Capacity Building Center for States helps states build capacity to partner with youth and families at all levels of child welfare, from individual case planning through systems-level change efforts. Led by Young Adult Consultants, the Capacity Building Center for States supports agencies as they develop practices that facilitate the engagement of youth. Agencies interested in learning more about these supports should contact their Tailored Services Liaison

The Capacity Building Center for States has several additional resources to help agencies build capacity for authentic engagement of youth in decision-making about their lives: 


The Role of Leaders

Resource Suites and Series 


Related Resources

Related Organization

  • provides facts, funding information, and tools to help create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs.

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