Permanency is a word used in child welfare to suggest stability. For children and youth who are not safe living in their home of origin, permanency provides an enduring family relationship that is safe and meant to last a lifetime, the legal rights and social status of full family membership, significant community connections, and the resources for physical, social, cognitive, cultural, and spiritual well-being.
Child welfare practice has prioritized achieving permanence for children and youth involved with the child welfare system in Canada since the 1980s. There are approximately 17,000 children and youth in the care of Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario for whom we are striving to provide this kind of stability. When a child comes into the care of a Children’s Aid Society the primary permanency goal is the reunification with their family. If return to family is not possible a range of placement settings are considered when looking for permanency for a child including: support from extended family, legal custody, and adoption. The needs of a child are the most significant consideration when choosing a placement setting.
Children’s Aid Societies are currently reporting data on two performance indicators related to permanency:
The days of care, by placement type
This PI measures the total number of days spent in family-based care, group care, and other arrangements such as youth living independently, hospitals, and justice facilities.
Family based care is the preferred placement setting for the majority of children in care.
For children and youth who are not safe living in their home of origin, permanency provides an enduring family relationship that is safe and meant to last a lifetime, the legal rights and social status of full family membership, significant community connections, and the resources for physical, social, cognitive, cultural, and spiritual well-being.
The time to permanency
This PI measures the length of time it took for children admitted to care to achieve permanency.
Providing children with permanency in their care promotes healthy development, encourages relationship continuity and a sense of community and identity.
Read about sisters who found a permanent home in which they could flourish:
Keisha was four years old when she first came into the care of a Children’s Aid Society. Prior to admission she and her older sister Dionne lived with their parents who were struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. Frequently there was no food in the house and the children were left alone.
One day the sisters visited their next door neighbour to ask for food as their parents had not been home for two days. The neighbour called CAS and following an investigation they were placed in a temporary foster home. When the CAS was unable to work successfully with the parents on their substance use issues the two girls were made Crown Wards. Within six months a welcoming long-term foster family was found for the girls.
For the next 18 years Keisha and her sister lived with Yvonne and Roger and their three children. Yvonne and Roger raised them like their own children. They were enrolled in extracurricular activities, watched movies as a family, and went camping in the summer. Keisha and Dionne were eventually adopted by their foster parents and now call them “mom” and “dad”. Today both girls are college graduates who maintain a supportive and close relationship with their foster family.