What is permanency planning?
“Permanency planning” helps make sure that you have a safe and permanent home and the support you need to be safe and healthy and to reach your life goals. Permanency planning is also about helping you achieve physical, emotional and legal stability during and after you leave foster care. It is another way of saying “planning for life after foster care.” No matter how old you are, you deserve at least one lifelong consistent relationship with a caring adult. A lifelong connection is a person to whom you can go for advice on things like applying to college or getting a job. It's someone who will celebrate your successes and help you navigate your challenges. After you and your social worker, in conjunction with your lawyer, come up with a plan, the judge will review it and decide whether to approve it at a Permanency Hearing.
The most important part of permanency planning is:
- Your DCF social worker and the DCF lawyer
- Your lawyer
- The judge
- Parent, guardian, foster parent, brother or sister
This is the chance you have been waiting for to take control of your life! You may be frustrated when you feel that adults are making decisions for you. Permanency planning lets you have a major voice in decisions that affect your life. If you are involved in creating your permanency plan, it will be your life plan. Your plan should support your having the same type of activities now that others your age enjoy such as prom, sleep overs, after school activities, and out of town school field trips. The permanency plan report will also let the court know that you have not had to change schools just because you were placed in care, you are receiving the health services you need, as well as any mental health counseling, dental or vision care you need.
How do I participate in planning for my future?
The basic steps in planning for your future include
1) You talk to your lawyer, social worker, caretaker, and other important people in your life about your goals and needs;
2) You participate in meetings and court hearings about you;
3) Your social worker writes a permanency plan report including information from you, your lawyer and other important people in your life concerning your future and what you need to achieve your goals.Tell your social worker and lawyer what your current needs are and what you want to do, where you want to live, and who you want to live with.
4) Think about these when making your plan:
- Where will I live when I turn 18?
- What do I want for my future?
- Have I told my social worker and lawyer what I want for my future?
- Who are some caring adults in my life?
- What are my goals in school? How will I reach them? How will I get extra help if I need it?
- Can I stay in my school if DCF changes my placement?
- What resources are available to help me go to college or vocational school and be successful there?
- What services do I want or need from DCF?
- Do I want to keep getting services from DCF after I turn 18?
- How will I get my driver’s license?
- How will I get around if I don’t have a car or a license?
- How can I get and keep a job?
- How will I get money to support myself and learn to manage it to build my credit?
- Where will I live? How can I afford to live there?
- How will I get health insurance?
- How will I get medical care when I need it?
- What if I am not a US citizen?
- What teen parenting services could I use, if needed?
- When I leave DCF, how will I get health insurance or health care?
- If I need an important document, like my social security card, do I know where to get it?
5) Tell your social worker and lawyer what your current needs are and what you want to do, where you want to live, and who you want to live with.
6) Your judge reviews your plan with you at your court hearing.
How do I make life-long connection to a caring adult?
There is plenty of room in your life for many adults to help you, like aunts, uncles, coaches and mentors. You may be able to include your birth parents and siblings as part of your support system.
In order to determine if you have supportive adults in your life, ask yourself if:
- The adults I live with now will care about me in the same way once I leave foster care.
- Do I have an adult who remembers me with a holiday card or some small birthday gift?
- Are there people in my life I trust who could become a supportive adult?
Talk with your social worker about how to include this person in your permanency planning. This person may be someone who is willing to create a permanency pact with you.
What is a permanency pact?
Once a supportive adult is identified as a potential life-long connection, you may want to create a permanency pact with your supportive adult(s). You don’t have to be formally adopted or have a guardian in order to create a permanency pact with a supportive adult. A permanency pact is a promise between a supportive adult and a young person. It is based on conversations you have with your supportive adult about the kind of positive supports that adult can provide once you leave foster care.
You might ask the supportive adults in your life if they can provide some or all of the following supports once you leave foster care:
Home for the holidays
A place to do laundry
Emergency place to stay
Assistance with medical appointments
Care package at college
Talking through tough decisions
Job search assistance
Mental health support
It is okay not to be able to find all of these kinds of support in one person. This is why it is so important for you and your social worker to build a permanency circle of multiple supportive adults by the time you leave foster care.
What if I am thinking of leaving DCF custody?
If you are age 17 years and 9 months or older or are a young adult, the permanency report will include the information required for all permanency reports as well as a proposed transition plan. Proposed transition plans should be designed by you, be as detailed as you want, and include specific options on:
- stable housing;
- health insurance;
- physical and mental health care including the designation of a health care proxy;
- educational services;
- long-term connections with mentors and caring adults;
- continuing support services including state agencies;
- workforce supports and employment services; and
- maintaining contact with siblings still in DCF custody or care.