New Tool Kit on Implementing Normalcy Provisions of Strengthening Families Act

Posted February 7, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog implementingnormalcyprovisions 2017

As states enter the sec­ond year of imple­ment­ing the Pre­vent­ing Sex Traf­fick­ing and Strength­en­ing Fam­i­lies Act (SFA), they are find­ing that while much work remains, the law pro­vides an extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve the lives of youth and fam­i­lies involved in the child wel­fare sys­tem by enabling these young peo­ple to have sim­i­lar nor­mal grow­ing-up expe­ri­ences to their peers not in fos­ter care.

Advanc­ing SFA — a toolk­it devel­oped by the Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive in part­ner­ship with the Juve­nile Law Cen­ter — is designed to help child wel­fare prac­ti­tion­ers, advo­cates and pol­i­cy­mak­ers effec­tive­ly imple­ment SFA’s nor­mal­cy pro­vi­sions, a sec­tion of the law that aims to pro­vide a much-need­ed boost to improv­ing over­all well-being for young peo­ple in fos­ter care by giv­ing youth and their fos­ter par­ents greater author­i­ty to make deci­sions and build crit­i­cal relationships.

The toolk­it — which is a guide for com­pre­hen­sive imple­men­ta­tion that sup­ports juris­dic­tions in elim­i­nat­ing bar­ri­ers to achiev­ing this out­come — includes the fol­low­ing components:

  • A sum­ma­ry of the basic legal requirements;
  • A set of 13 rec­om­men­da­tions for achiev­ing effec­tive implementation;
  • Pol­i­cy exam­ples, includ­ing exist­ing law, reg­u­la­tion and pol­i­cy guid­ance, as well as pro­posed pol­i­cy language;
  • An appen­dix that includes excerpts of mod­el policies.

Poli­cies and prac­tices that sup­port con­nect­ing youth with activ­i­ties and peo­ple in their com­mu­ni­ties help youth make a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion to adult­hood and the types of long last­ing rela­tion­ships that lead to per­ma­nen­cy and sup­port­ive adult con­nec­tions. Specif­i­cal­ly, SFA’s nor­mal­cy provision:

  • Requires states to imple­ment a rea­son­able and pru­dent par­ent” stan­dard that allows care­givers to make more dai­ly deci­sions for young peo­ple in their care;
  • Man­dates child wel­fare sys­tems engage all young peo­ple in their case plan­ning begin­ning at age 14; and
  • Elim­i­nates the use of Anoth­er Planned Per­ma­nent Liv­ing Arrange­ment (APPLA) as a per­ma­nen­cy goal for chil­dren under 16, as well as the addi­tion of case plan­ning and over­sight require­ments when APPLA is used.

For more infor­ma­tion about this top­ic, read the Foundation’s recent issue brief, What Young Peo­ple Need to Thrive: Lever­ag­ing the Strength­en­ing Fam­i­lies Act to Pro­mote Normalcy.”

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