Permanency Means Something Different To Transition Age Youth
While many kids in foster care hope to find a “forever home”, most of our older youth hope for just one supportive person. Just one person they can count on. Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately, this is a hope that many of our youth never quite grasp. All of our you deserve it but in our current system, “forever home” are often an unrealistic goal. Permanency for transition age youth has a different meaning.
Risks Of Lacking Connections
The lack of permanency means that youth often turn to dysfunctional biological connections and toxic relationships to fill that void. Some of those connections led them to their child welfare involvement in the first place. Youth with foster care statistically experience higher rates of human trafficking.
Human connection is human nature. We all seek to feel loved, protected, and supported. The search for connection can turn volatile after life-long instability and foster care experience. While there are tons of studies and research being done, it doesn’t change the fact that foster care is ugly. The reason youth enter is ugly, the reasons they stay is ugly, and the reasons that they are never able to find that one person who unconditional loves them is ugly.
Social workers need to help youth seek out unconventional permanent connections. Maybe the young adult can’t live with a person but maybe that will be the one who invites the youth to spend holiday’s with them or the one who will take them on a family vacations. That could be the person who lets the youth do laundry in their home. While we should never stop helping youth look for their “forever homes”, we can’t let supportive adults who aren’t placement options be the end to that meaningful relationship. We must foster positive adult relationships and assist youth in building them up. Those are the people who will be around when the case closes and then the social worker isn’t involved anymore.