What is Relational Permanency & Why Does it Matter?

By Cassie McQuitty, Christ’s Haven CEO

At Christ’s Haven, we care for the whole child. Our approach includes more than just food & shelter but also making sure a child’s physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual needs are met. Part of that includes surrounding each child with a network of support both at Christ’s Haven and in our community.

Relational permanency, rather than just legal permanency, is gaining traction in foster care after the results of a study of long-term outcomes for youth who transition out of the state foster care system. The Texas Youth Permanency Study (TYPS), published by the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing at the University of Texas at Austin, recommendations were, “The foster care system must redefine success around child wellbeing, specifically three interdependent factors: strong relationships with adults, a sense of normalcy and crucial life skills.”

This study underscores the importance of Christ’s Haven’s core values of Normalcy, Dignity and Hope. Ensuring that the children and families we serve have trusted adults in their lives through houseparents, mentors, and community volunteers is critical to every aspect of our program.

“Who would you call if you needed to borrow $100? Who would you turn to for a second set of eyes on your resume, or to help you navigate buying your first car?” These examples from the TYPS report get to the heart of relational permanency or the presence of supportive relationships with caring adults.

As part of our regular check-ins with teens & young adults at Christ’s Haven using the Casey Life Skills Assessment, we asked “Do you have a trusted adult you can call in crisis?” Of the young adults in the Supervised Independent Living Program at Christ’s Haven, 90% answered yes, and 10% answered mostly yes. We believe that is a critical aspect to relational permanency.

When it came to participants’ emotional wellbeing, TYPS found that relational permanency mattered far more than legal permanency. It didn’t matter where they landed, legally speaking, so long as they had trusted adults by their side. At Christ’s Haven, we are committed to relational permanency for all of the youth we serve. We believe in surrounding them with strong and stable relationships that will follow them beyond their time at Christ’s Haven.

If you are interested in learning more about mentorship at Christ’s Haven, email Dan@Christshaven.org

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