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New tool measures connections of youth in foster care with supportive adults

A new tool called the Youth Connections Scale has been developed by Annette Semanchin Jones, Ph.D. candidate at the School of Social Work, and Traci LaLiberte, executive director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, in partnership with Anu Family Services, that measures the level of connectedness of youth in foster care with supportive adults.

Research has shown that supportive adult connections for youth have many positive long-term effects, including improved self-esteem, educational achievement, and social skill development. Yet too often, youth lose their prior supportive adult connections while in out-of-home care.

The Youth Connections Scale, or YCS, was developed to fill a need in child welfare: to evaluate and measure the increased efforts of agencies to improve the level of connectedness of youth with supportive adults as a component of relational permanence of youth in foster care. Relational permanence has been defined as the lifelong connections youth develop to caring adults, which include at least one adult who will provide a permanent, parent-like connection for that youth. Many experts and scholars now advocate for child welfare agencies to increase their focus on building such permanent, supportive connections for youth while in out-of-home care.

The results of a pilot validation study of the YCS indicate that the YCS is a useful tool for child welfare agencies to measure the relational permanence of youth in foster care and strengthen their practice of creating a safety net of caring and supportive adults for these youth. This study was recently accepted for publication in Children and Youth Services Review1.

For more information on the YCS, please visit the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare's Youth Connections Scale website at http://z.umn.edu/YCS.

1Citation: Jones, A. S., & LaLiberte, T. (in press). Measuring youth connections: A component of relational permanence for foster youth. Children and Youth Services Review.

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