Academic journal article Child Welfare

Assessing Systemic Barriers to Permanency Achievement for Children in Out-of-Home Care: Development of the Child Permanency Barriers Scale

Academic journal article Child Welfare

Assessing Systemic Barriers to Permanency Achievement for Children in Out-of-Home Care: Development of the Child Permanency Barriers Scale

Article excerpt

State and local child welfare agencies are engaged in multiple efforts to enact systems change to improve outcomes, particularly in regard to achievement of child permanency The Child and Family Services Review process, conducted by the Administration Children and Families, requires states to implement program improvement plans designed to improve outcomes for which they are not meeting national standards. However, a tool has not been demonstrated as useful in assessing the barriers to achievement of permanency across the out-of-home service continuum, from recruitment of families to placement stability This article reports on the development and refinement of such a tool in one Midwestern state. The Child Permanency Barriers Scale has four factors: kinship, placement and matching, adequate services and resources, and communication and collaboration. Implications for use in state-specific and multisystem assessment and system reform are discussed.

There were over 423,000 children in foster care as of September 30,2009. Furthermore, the average length of stay for a child in care was over 26 months (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). A number of segments of the continuum of care in the child welfare system impact the safety, permanency, and wellbeing of these children. Once children are removed from their homes, a cadre of foster and adoptive families is required to meet the individual needs of these children. This involves the recruitment, selection, training, and retention of foster and adoptive families.

Research has documented many reasons why states are focusing on improving their ability to help children and youth in out-of-home care achieve permanency in a timely manner. In this study, the term "permanency" refers to all possible permanency outcomes, including reunification, guardianship, and adoption. Moving foster children from home to home has been demonstrated to have a negative impact on them (Pardeck, 1984; Palmer, 1996; Smith, Stormshak, Chamberlain, & Whaley, 2001; Hussey & Guo, 2005). However, research indicates that a vast number of children in out-of-home care experience multiple placements the longer they remain in care. For example, in 2007, only 14.8% of children in out-of-home care for less than 12 months experienced more than two placements, while 39% of children in out-of-home care for more than 12 months and 68.3% of children in out-of-home care for 24 months experienced more than two placements (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).Takayama and colleagues (1998) showed that children with a failed placement were more likely to have worse mental and physical health problems. Examining children's behavioral adjustment over time, Proctor and colleagues (2010) reported that placement stability (OR = 1.44; p < .05) predicted stable adjustment when compared to mixed/decreasing adjustment and increasing adjustment. The longterm consequences for children in out-of-home care for extended periods of time can be devastating (Kemp & Bodonyi, 2000; Takayama, Wolfe, & Coulter, 1998).

Child welfare staff struggle with selecting the best type of permanent family placement for each child. Recent federal initiatives, such as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions legislation passed in 2008 (P.L. 110-351), emphasize increasing connections to relatives. Fechter-Leggett and O'Brien (2010) analyzed data from the Casey National Foster Care Alumni Study and found that while long-term kinship care does not independently predict more positive adult mental health outcomes as opposed to other types of placement, there are a variety of other factors that agencies could consider to improve outcomes. Courtney, Piliavin, Grogan-Kaylor, and Nesmith (2001) identified factors associated with outcomes for youth transitioning into adulthood. Determining those factors promoting placement stability, permanency and long term outcome achievement can be critical to the wellbeing of children served by the out-of-home care system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.