Podcast Explores Proposed SOUL Family Permanency Option
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.”