NACAC believes that effective permanency planning for children and youth is best done if there are accurate accountability systems that track the number of children in foster care and other out of home placements, as well as systems that assess and track each child’s well-being and permanency outcomes.
Agencies with responsibility for foster children should track, and report to their state/province and national government, data on each child in their care, including:
- data about the child’s well-being, including educational attainment and health status
- historical data on the child and his or her birth family
- a complete record of the child’s placement history, including disruptions and dissolutions
Data should be kept longitudinally so that accurate information is available on each child’s length of stay in care and specific placement outcomes. States, provinces, and federal governments should make collected data available in a timely fashion, so that data may encourage informed funding and policy decisions.
The U.S. federal Child and Family Service Reviews should include data on children’s well-being rather than simply tracking process results. The federal government should work with agencies and experts in child well-being to develop accurate well-being measures that can be used to assess the performance of states’ child welfare programs.
The federal government should adequately fund needed additional research to help guide child welfare practice. Research should include: (1) longitudinal prospective analysis of how youth who age out of care fare compared to children and youth who are adopted or are in the general population; and (2) analysis of what makes successful families, including any necessary pre-adoption preparation or post-adoption support.