It Can’t Happen Without You: The Essential Role of Direct Care Staff in Permanency

During recent times we have been hearing about essential workers and their importance to us all. There is no question that those individuals working directly with children and families in a therapeutic milieu are also essential to the care, healing and permanency outcomes for our most vulnerable children and youth who reside in residential care.

This hour session entitled, It Can’t Happen Without You: The Essential Role of Direct Care Staff in Permanency will focus on how direct care staff can use their role to engage and support youth and families in successful permanency. Built upon the definition of permanency from national child welfare literature which defines permanency, “ As enduring family relationship that is safe and lifelong; offering the same legal rights and social status of full family member ship; providing for physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual well-being; and assuring lifelong connections to birth and extended family, siblings and other significant adults, family history, and traditions, race and ethnic heritage, culture, religions and language,” we will guide participants in understanding the importance of permanency for all youth in placement and help them to identify one action step for making their best permanency work even better

The session will also introduce staff to Ten Beliefs that ground our work to advance permanency for the children and youth they serve. A preview of these beliefs include: “Start Right Away,” from the first conversations with youth ask them about family connections and what their hopes are for when they leave the care, “Family is the Solution Not the Problem” suggesting that all  families have strengths and we must be able to see their strengths and include them for what they can do, It’s Not All Rainbows and Butterflies,” no family is perfect, we need to value them for what they can do.  A belief directed towards the importance of collaboration, “Talk with Your Team: Good communication is vital,” reminding participants that everyone needs to participate in preparing the youth for permanency. Direct care staff’s daily contact with a youth provides a unique perspective regarding their needs and wishes, sharing this with the youth’s team is important to advancing permanency. “Resilience and Flexibility Are Key,” even when the youth is dismissing their need for family, direct care staff are not giving up on the importance of them having a safe, permanent family. This sampling of direct staff beliefs along with others will be discussed to suggest opportunities for staff to use relational moments, conversations, and activities within the milieu to engage youth and their families in their permanency work.

*Call to Actions: An integrated Approach to Youth Permanency and Preparation for Adulthood. Casey Family Services in collaboration with CPYP, CFP and JCYOI


Cheryl Peltier, LSW

Child Welfare Associate , Plummer Youth Promise


Carly Pedersen

Program Manager , Plummer Youth Promise