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• Diligent recruitment and enhanced casework can help hard-to-place youth establish permanent relationships with families.
• More permanent relationships were established for the intervention group than for the control group.
• There was no statistically significant difference between the PFEC and control groups with respect to legal permanency.
Among child welfare professionals there is agreement on the negative consequences for youth who age out of foster care without an attachment to a caring adult. There is a particularly challenging sub-population of youth in foster care at highest risk for this scenario: special-needs youth who reside in a congregate care setting and who have been freed for adoption. This paper details the “Parent for Every Child” initiative (PFEC), a federally funded diligent recruitment program which targeted special needs youth who resided in congregate care settings and who had been freed for adoption. PFEC had two primary objectives: 1) identify effective recruitment strategies for matching caring adults with youth in need of permanence and (2) improve permanency outcomes for youth in the target population, inclusive of both legal and relational permanence. The methods used for studying the initiative are described as well as the study's randomly assigned participants, inclusive of both intervention and control groups. Findings related to the initiative's main goals are presented with respect to: the various recruitment strategies employed by project staff and staff working in the control condition; the extent to which those efforts yielded “matches” between youth in need and potential resource families; and, the extent to which youth enrolled in the PFEC project had better permanency outcomes compared to youth in the control group. The limitations of the study are discussed as well as promising directions for future research in this area.
Journal: Children and Youth Services Review - Volume 65, June 2016, Pages 26–31