Juvenile Law Center

Child Welfare and Foster Care|Older Youth with Disabilities|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)

Services and Planning For Permanency and Transition

More than 23,000 youth “age out” of foster care annually in the U.S. without a connection to a family or a supportive network of caring adults1 and without the skills they need to live independently. Without personal connections, education or skills, youth face difficult odds as they transition to adulthood.2 Juvenile Law Center works to ensure that planning for permanency and eventual transition to adulthood begins early and continues until youth exit the child welfare system.

“Permanency” affords youth a clear legal status and relationships with supportive adults who provide moral, emotional, and financial support, including a safety net in times of need.3 Youth in the child welfare system cite family ties as an important and undervalued component of their time in care. Research shows that many youth maintain connections to their biological families both while in care and when they age out.4

 The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 requires that all reasonable efforts be made to secure permanency for youth in the system. In addition, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (“Fostering Connections Act”) better equips child welfare agencies to connect youth with relatives and other caring adults. The recently enacted federal law, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act,5 limits the use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement as a permanency plan and strengthens the permanency plan inquiry at each review hearing.  

Young people also need access to a quality education that prepares them to pursue higher education, job training, and employment based on their skills and interests. The Fostering Connections Act mandates effective “transition planning,” which must compliment permanency planning and services, for youth who age out of the system as adults.

To improve transition and permanency services and planning for older youth in care, Juvenile Law Center is:

  • Drafting model legislation and working with states to enact laws to implement the new permanency and transition planning requirements of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act;
  • Drafting and promoting model policies to ensure that youth in the juvenile justice system receive quality transition services and planning; 
  • Encouraging states to adopt law and policies for extended support and services for youth past age 18 if they have not achieved permanency; 
  • Providing guidance to courts and advocates to play an active oversight and advocacy role in permanency and transition planning for older youth;
  • Facilitating youth engagement in planning for their future; and
  • Promoting policies and programs that provide support to older foster youth to facilitate their success in postsecondary education or career training


More resources:


1 “The AFCARS Report: Preliminary FY 2009 Estimates as of July 2010 Data.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children and Families. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, 2010 Web. May 2011.
2 Avery, Janice. “An examination of Theory and Promising Practice for Achieving Permanency for Teens Before they Age out of Foster Care.” Children and Youth Services Review32.2 (2010): 399-408. Web. May 2011.
3 Frey, Lauren. A Call to Action: An Integrated Approach to Youth Permanency and Preparation for Adulthood n. p.: Casey Family Servic3, 2007. Web. May 2011. http://www.aecf.org/upload/publicationfiles/casey_permanency_0505.pdf
4 Courtney, M., et al. Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 23 and 24.Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago 2009. 12-13.Web.
5 P.L. 113-183, section 112.


Last updated: 8/3/2015

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