What are we measuring?
In addition to advocating for the legal rights and protections of child clients alleged to be abused and/or neglected, the Office of the Child Attorney strives to achieve permanency for each child. Permanency is defined as a legal, permanent family living arrangement, that is, reunification with the birth family, living with relatives, guardianship, or adoption for children removed from their home and placed in foster care. When children must be removed from their families to ensure their safety, permanency planning efforts focus on returning them home as soon as is safely possible or placing them with another legally permanent family, which may include relatives, adoptive families who obtain legal custody, or guardians.
This measure tracks the percentage cases in which the child achieves permanency within two years of the initiation of the case. A case is not considered closed by the Office of the Child Attorney until permanency is achieved.
Why are we measuring it?
Children should move from foster care to permanent families as quickly as possible to ensure healthy development while maintaining safety. Lengthy stays in foster care and the multiple placements that often result (e.g., moving among foster families or group homes) can have a negative impact on children’s mental health and well-being and their ability to make a smooth transition back to their birth families or to new permanent families. Older children who exit foster care without a permanent family may face difficulty transitioning to adulthood.
How are we doing?
Ninety percent of child clients who achieved permanency in the first quarter of 2017 did so within two years of the initiation of the case. The rate was somewhat lower in the second quarter at 87 percent and continued to decline, reaching only 66 percent in the fourth quarter and finishing the year below the target at just over 80 percent.