More than 80% of children who enter into foster care after the age of 12 end up emancipating from care without achieving legal permanency–the court’s decision to make an adult a legal guardian for a youth. They also have higher rates of home life instability after adoption or guardianship compared to younger children.
Youth in foster care have often expressed that relational permanency–the feelings associated with authentic emotional connection, love, comfort, and security–is more important to them than legal permanency. However, recognizing the importance of supportive relationships with adults is different than having the necessary skills to build and nurture these relationships, especially for a young person who has experienced trauma and loss.
In a recent study from our Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing, researchers Barbara Ball, Monica Faulkner, Timothy Belseth and Lalaine Sevillano explore the types of experiences that help youth in care develop lasting and nurturing relationships with the adults in their lives.