Birthfamilies as permanency resources for children in long-term foster care

Susan C. Mapp, Elizabethtown College
Cache Steinberg, University of Houston


Provisions of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 mandated shorter time frames for making permanency decisions and facilitating adoption. Yet for many children, foster care continued to be a significant portion of their life experiences. This project explored the potential permanency option of birthfamilies and extended kin for children who languished in foster care while being free for adoption. Eighteen children achieved permanent placement with their birthfamilies. In addition, staff found that although many families could not provide permanent placements, they could offer appropriate relationships with the children. This project team recommends viewing family relationships as an integral component where placement is one option on a continuum that includes letters, phone calls, and visits.