The purpose of the permanency goal is to ensure a legally permanent, nurturing family for every child in out-of-home care through family reunification, adoption, guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA). All children deserve to have permanency and stability in their living situations, whether they remain in the home, are removed from the home and then reunited with their families, or are removed from the home and then live permanently with families other than their birth families.
Generally, when looking at permanency, child welfare practice is concerned with addressing the following questions:
- Did the child protective services (CPS) agency make good decisions to return a child to parents and provide services to prevent re-entry?
- Is the child in a stable placement now, and how many placement changes did the child experience?
- If appropriate, was the child placed in the same foster home as his or her siblings? Was relative placement explored, and did it happen?
- Were a permanency goal and all subsequent goals established in a timely manner, and were the goals appropriate?
- Did the agency make concerted efforts to achieve the goal?
- Was the child placed close enough for parents to have ongoing contact? Did the agency make sure that visits occurred frequently enough?
Achieving permanency means working with the child and family to develop a case plan that provides stability and, once the child returns home or goes to another permanent placement, prevents re-entry into care. A caseworker may use concurrent planning -- that is, working toward more than one permanency goal at a time -- to reunite the family while seeking other options to ensure that the child achieves permanency in a timely manner. This is done by developing permanency goals (reunification, adoption, kinship care, or other planned permanent living arrangements) and then implementing the tasks and providing the services to achieve those goals.
Throughout the permanency process, the caseworker should also work to provide and maintain the child's family connections. This is done by helping the child maintain family relationships and trying to ensure that, if removed from the home, the child is in close proximity to siblings and other family members.