Children and Youth Services Review, 27(2):115-134, 2005. Paper abstract bibtex
A significant number of children and youth in foster care in the United States are placed in congregate care settings (group homes and residential treatment centers) and a large proportion of this group of youth are age 12 and older. Research has documented the negative outcomes for youth who leave foster care without permanent family or other adult connections, and policy and practice have emphasized permanency for children and youth in foster care. Nonetheless, research has not focused specifically on the extent to which permanent family connections are being successfully achieved for youth in congregate care settings. In a qualitative study conducted by Children's Rights and partnering legal organizations in New York City, permanency outcomes for youth in congregate care were examined. Interviews were conducted with a range of professionals as well as with young adults who had exited foster care after placements in congregate care settings. The findings indicate that a number of systemic factors undermine the achievement of permanency for youth in care, including a limited focus on work with families. It was found that reunification and adoption were used far less often than "independent living" as the permanency goal for youth in congregate care settings. Young adults reported relatively low levels of involvement in the permanency planning process. The study advances a number of recommendations to improve permanency outcomes for youth in congregate care settings, including a reduced reliance on congregate care and greater reliance on family-based placements, an emphasis on permanency as a critical outcome for youth, and greater accountability on the part of public and private child welfare agencies for achieving permanency for youth in congregate care. Directions for future research are proposed. © 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.