The Texas Youth Permanency Study Pilot Study Report is now available!

TYPS Pilot Study ReportUpbring, a thought leader among child welfare nonprofits, and the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing today released the TYPS Pilot Study Report (TYPS). The study calls into question the child welfare system’s decades-long assumption that placing youth with adoptive parents, biological parents, or relatives is sufficient to ensure they have a “forever family” and successfully transition to adulthood.

“Relationships are the key to building resilience. Sadly, our child welfare system is focused on legal outcomes—returning children to their parents, terminating parental rights, getting a child adopted,” principal investigator Dr. Monica Faulkner, Ph.D., LMSW said. “We don’t focus on the ‘normal’ relationships that youth need with friends, siblings and supportive adults. As we continue this research, we hope to find more information to understand how those relationships function regardless of the child’s legal outcomes.”

The TYPS pilot report marks the first phase in a multi-year study. Over the next five years, TYPS will follow a cohort of youth as they exit the foster care system due to family reunification, adoption, or aging out. The study will assess how these trajectories impact youths’ abilities to build authentic relationships and achieve positive outcomes.

The Findings

TYPS Key FindingYouth who age out of foster care face high risk for negative outcomes like homelessness, unemployment, and early or unplanned pregnancy. Until now, however, no data existed comparing youth who age out of care to youth who are adopted or reunified with family.

The TYPS research team interviewed 30 young adults who had been in foster care, seeking answers to two questions:

  1. How do foster care experiences shape outcomes in emerging adulthood?
  2. To what extent do older youth who are adopted from foster care, returned to their family of origin, or remain in permanent managing conservatorship maintain stable and nurturing connections in emerging adulthood?

Five study participants reported reunifying with their birth families. However, they eventually returned to foster care because of ongoing abuse or neglect. Another five participants experienced disrupted adoptions for reasons including abuse and adoptive parents ending their relationship with the child. In contrast, most participants eventually aged out of care.

The Texas Youth Permanency Study Pilot Study Report Is Now Available!

A New Model

The TYPS pilot report suggests a new model for improving long-term outcomes for youth in foster care, regardless of whether they are adopted, reunified or age out of care. Initially, the model focuses on youth establishing authentic relationships with people who genuinely care about them. These relationships include caseworkers, mental health professionals, and foster parents, as well as more informal relationships.

A New Model

TYPS MODEL

“That foster mom, she has been my angel,” said one study participant. “She’s godmother to my two children. She treated me with decency and respect. She wanted to get to know me.”

The research team found youth who have the opportunity to forge authentic relationships feel like normal children. In turn, authentic relationships and feeling normal facilitate a successful transition into adulthood.

Treating the Whole Child

Because children enter the child welfare system at different life stages and due to different circumstances, each has unique needs. Still, Upbring’s research identifies five key markers of every child’s well-being: safety, health, education, vocation and life skills. Every Upbring program is designed to make measurable progress toward the five markers.

“We call this our continuum of care. It’s a framework for treating the whole child, beyond his or her immediate needs,” Upbring Senior Vice President of Strategy and Community Engagement Murray Chanow said. “The Texas Youth Permanency Study will provide insight that helps us deliver the support each child needs to thrive after they leave our care and, ultimately, break the cycle of abuse they were born into.”

The study was made possible by support from the Reissa Foundation and   The Simmons Foundation.

Read the report:

Pilot Study Findings: March 2018