CFRI Presents on Permanency and Resilience of Foster Youth at Upbring Conference

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. According to the Children’s Bureau this year’s theme is “Building Community, Building Hope.” The focus this year is to acknowledge the power of communities to address child abuse by intersecting research, policy and practice to promote family well-being and child protection from abuse and neglect.

Here in Austin, TX, Upbring, formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South hosted its first Thought Leadership Conference on the Prevention of Child Maltreatment earlier this month on April 4. CFRI was well represented with presentations from CFRI Co-Director Monica Faulkner, CFRI Research Associate Tina Adkins and CFRI Associate Director Beth Gerlach presented alongside over 20 other speakers in this event that engaged Texas researchers, practitioners, and community leaders. There were approximately 100 individuals in attendance with over throughout the day. This conference provided a space for people to talk and strategize together around the field of child abuse prevention. According to Upbring the goal of the conference was to “bring together prominent thought leaders who possess shared values related to our ongoing efforts to break the cycle of child abuse. By sharing information and encouraging dialogue around what’s working and what else we can be doing, we hope to have sparked conversations and partnerships that will help us all to be more effective, even innovative, in our work to change the lives of those whom we serve every single day.”

beth and monica Upbring
Tina Adkins (seated) with Monica Faulkner presented on the Texas Youth Permanency Study

Monica and Tina presented on the Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS). The TYPS is a longitudinal study that follows current foster youth who are between 15-16 years of age as of September 1st, 2016. The results of the study will hopefully highlight the factors and permanency outcomes that predict well-being and positive outcomes for foster youth as they move through adolescence and enter young adulthood. The study will also seek to define how stable and nurturing connections/relationships impact developmental outcomes during emerging adulthood. Monica states that the TYPS seeks to understand “how supports can be provided to young adults who have been in foster care regardless of their permanency status:  whether they age out of the system, are adopted, placed with relatives or reunified with their parents.” This study is unique because it focuses on youth who achieve permanency during adolescence, rather than youth who are aging out of the system. She explains that “it is important to understand how to direct resources to achieve the most cost-efficient and beneficial outcomes [for foster youth].”


Beth Gerlach presented on education resiliency

Later in the day, Beth and UTSSW Doctoral student Catherine LaBrenz presented on Education resilience for youth in foster care. On the same topic, Monica, Beth and Catherine authored a white paper entitled “Structuring policies and practices to support educational resilience of foster youth,” which was published on Upbring’s website earlier this month.


The paper draws from Resilience Theory and presents a conceptual framework that emphasizes positive outcomes and strengths of children, their families and communities. The model also identifies and proposes to decrease the risk factors associated with the achievement gap of students in foster care. The model presents 10 protective factors including, self-confidence, economic support, the student-teacher relationship and promoting education as a pathway to success. The report further outlines current legislation on the national and state level that works to promote resilience and provides the current gaps in knowledge around educational resiliency and future research. You can read the paper here.