Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lanesskog, Deirdre


Despite the efforts to shorten the time youth spend in foster care, every year about 37, 362 youths emancipate from the foster care system without reaching permanency. Permanency for foster youth has not received adequate attention from the child welfare community due to the belief that youths are unadoptable. Using a qualitative approach, this study will explore the social workers’ perceptions related to permanency planning for youth with behavior problems and/or juvenile involvement in foster care and analyze the influence of the social workers’ perception on permanency planning for these youths.

This research study found that social workers considered the mental health of youths as most important in considering placement and permanency options. They believe that reunifying the youths with their families of origin was the optimal permanency outcome. However, when this option was not available, they felt that placing the youths with extended family members or family friends under legal guardianship was a good permanency outcome. This study also found that most of the participants limited the youths’ permanency options to only those known family members or friends already named by the parents; they did not consider reinstating reunification services to the parents, reaching out to incarcerated parents, searching for maternal and paternal extended family, or searching for lost siblings. Implications for social work research and practice are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons