Why Permanency is important

Here I will attempt to provide resources and information for other foster parents of older teens on permanency. I foster through the state and though my local DSS is actually very good, they do not have a specific program for attaining permanency for older teens. This page is the result of my research. This page is also a work in progress; if I waited to publish this page when I thought it was 'perfect' it would never get published!

I got into foster care because of a young man I knew had no where to go and no one to turn to. By no where to go I mean he could not see a future for himself, and he certainly could not figure out how to get one. He was 17 yo and waiting for his 18th birthday with both great anticipation and great terror. He could not wait to get away from the system that he percieved was crushing his soul, but the thought of being on his own... So as a result of taking in this young man I began to research information on fostering older teens. And the word permanency get coming up. In fact, it is one of the current buzz words in the foster care world. But what exactly does permanency mean and why is it important?

What is Permanency?
It is hard to find a definitive and consistant definition of permanency, however, most definitions seem to included a family relationship that is intended to last a lifetime. This family relationship includes commitment, continuity, and assumption of a common future. The youth has a sense of belonging and emotional security, that transcends the societal stigma of foster care.  One of the issues around permanency is the lack of a consistent definition of the term. From the National Child Welfare Resource Center Youth Development website this definition can be found in the article "Youth Focus; engaging young people in permanency planning". Other definitions of permanency include:
“… Permanency is defined as a legal, permanent family living arrangement, that is, reunification with the birth family, living with relatives, guardianship, or adoption (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2005).”
Permanency is both a process and a result that includes involvement of the youth as a participant or leader in finding a permanent connection with at least one committed adult who provides a safe, stable, and secure parenting relationship, love, unconditional commitment, and lifelong support in the context of reunification, a legal adoption, or guardianship, where possible, and in which the youth has the opportunity to maintain contacts with important persons including brothers and sisters (California Permanency for Youth Project). 
Youth often attach many different meanings to the concept of permanency. It is important to understand what type of relationship is important to them and to identify what permanency means to them. The article Focus of Youth also included that results of a survey answering the question, “What does permanence mean to you?”
“It means having you side of the church full when you get married (Youth Presenter, Iowa Permanency Forum 2005).”
“It means having the key to the house (Youth Participant, National Child Welfare Resource Center for Youth Development (NCWRCYD) Youth Permanency Forum 1999).”
“It means having your picture on the wall in someone’s house (Youth Narrator, Minnesota Adoption Exchange Video 2005).”
“It means knowing where you are going to be buried (Youth Participant, NCWRCYD Youth Permanency Forum 1999).”