The Academy believes that permanency planning starts from the moment children enter care.  In order to successfully meet the needs of children and ensure their well-being and stability, child welfare systems must rethink the continuum of care that they provide from entry all the way through post permanency. Furthermore, child welfare interventions that target adoptive/guardianship homes nearing disruption or dissolution often come too late, failing the best interests of children and families.  The development of appropriate culturally responsive supports/services is needed to address the unique behavioral, mental health and medical issues that can threaten families’ stability and long-term permanency commitments.

Nationwide, states are seeking ways to refine their permanency support and preservation services to ensure that children are kept safe and are growing up in permanent homes that enhance their well-being. With limited resources and compounding stressors, child welfare systems must identify effective ways to alter practice and programs that promote permanency outcomes.

In an effort to help states promote permanency outcomes, The Academy works with public and private grant funded programs that increase and enhance permanency support and preservation programs. The Academy blends the foundational work being conducted through Spaulding’s direct service entity, Child and Family Services, with information on the latest adoption policies, practices, and research.  All of the work done through The Academy adheres to twelve guiding principles

1. Permanency Framework

In order to enhance positive adoption/guardianship outcomes, a permanency framework should be embedded in the child welfare systems, starting at the initial contact.

2. Multi-System Collaboration

Multi-system collaboration (including education systems, law enforcement, juvenile justice, tribes and behavioral health professionals) is critical in gathering, documenting, sharing and using available information to make critical decisions that impact permanency.

3. Resource Families

Recruitment, selection and support of resource families that are able and willing to promote the well being of children are critical investments in a child welfare system.

4. Data

Data on families and children should be collected and utilized in a manner that drives permanency, determines services and assists in developing a coherent system of care.

5. Involvement of Birth Families

The manner in which birth families are involved throughout the permanency continuum should be more inclusive.  To do this, adoptive and guardianship families need assistance in defining the depth and type of engagement that they will have with birth families as well as support in developing and sustaining these relationships.

6. Child Assessments

It is essential for children in care to have dynamic, culturally sensitive assessments that are shared and enhanced by all stakeholders.  These assessments should be continuously shared with foster/adoptive families so that they are fully informed and necessary services can be provided prior to achievement of permanency.

7. Addressing Critical Life Changes

Every transition entails critical life changes that must be appropriately addressed in a timely manner to avoid negative impacts on children’s trajectory to permanency.

8. Adoption/Guardianship Preparation

Adoption/guardianship is a milestone that requires thorough preparation for children, foster/adoptive families and their community, regardless of the foster/adoptive families’ relation to the children.  The content and manner in which this preparation is completed should be adapted to better support and prepare all parties for permanency.

9. Service Provision and Support

Adoption/guardianship is a life long journey that requires the child welfare system to provide a level of service provision and supports before, during and after finalization.

10. Tailored Service Array

Permanency support and preservation services should adapt to the culture and life cycle of adoptive/guardianship families. The “one size fits all” approach should be avoided and replaced with a service array that can be tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of families.

11. Community Relationships

Effective permanency support and preservation services recognize the interdependence of family and community relationships and leverages the assets that a community can assemble to help families.

12. Continuum of Support Services

Communities need to be aware of the unique needs of children who have been adopted and/or obtained guardianship so that corporations, individuals and institutions can provide a coordinated, community supported continuum of family based support services.

The Academy is currently working on one large initiative called the National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption/Guardianship Support and Preservation.


For more information or to refer someone to the program see contact information and form below:

Melinda Lis
Vice President, Academy for Family Support/Preservation
Phone: 248 443 0300×294
Fax: 248 443 7099