Podcast Explores Proposed SOUL Family Permanency Option

Posted July 5, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A graphic illustration that shows a microphone and an ellipses

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Fel­lows want­ed a new way to cre­ate legal fam­i­lies for old­er youth in fos­ter care. Their solu­tion? A per­ma­nen­cy option called SOUL Family.

A recent episode of the Imprint Week­ly Pod­cast explores how the Fel­lows and their yearn­ing for legal, lov­ing and life­long rela­tion­ships led to SOUL Family. 

The episode, A Fourth Path to Per­ma­nen­cy,” fea­tures then-Fel­low Patri­cia Pat­ty” Duh and Leslie Gross, who directs the Foundation’s Fam­i­ly Well-Being Strat­e­gy Group. The pod­cast is host­ed by John Kel­ly, senior edi­tor of The Imprint.

Dur­ing the inter­view, Gross and Duh — who has joined the Foundation’s staff since the pod­cast’s record­ing — explain how the per­ma­nen­cy option would work. As pro­posed, SOUL Fam­i­ly would allow young peo­ple, ages 16 and old­er, to main­tain legal ties to their bio­log­i­cal par­ents and sib­lings while also iden­ti­fy­ing one or more adults to become their life­long, legal care­givers when fos­ter care ends.

We’re try­ing to fig­ure out how to con­nect our bio rel­a­tives to our new rel­a­tives,” says Duh, a Hawaii res­i­dent who expe­ri­enced mul­ti­ple place­ments before she aged out of fos­ter care and tried to heal bonds with five sib­lings sep­a­rat­ed by the sys­tem. One of my sib­lings was an island away from me. No one had tried to keep us connected.”

The SOUL Fam­i­ly pro­pos­al also reflects Jim Casey Fel­lows’ vision of a world in which every young per­son has legal­ly rec­og­nized and trust­ed care­givers who men­tor and sup­port them into adult­hood — and for the rest of their lives.

Young peo­ple need, like all of us need, rock-sol­id for­ev­er con­nec­tions — peo­ple we can rely on no mat­ter what,” says Gross. There is no end point for that.” 

Read more about the SOUL Fam­i­ly proposal

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