What is permanency?

Simply put, “permanency” means family. It means having positive, healthy, nurturing relationships with adults who provide emotional, financial, moral, educational, and other kinds of support as youth mature into adults.

At Ventura County Children and Family Services, our top priority is to reunify children with their parents whenever it is safe to do so. When that is not possible, we must explore alternative permanency options, as all children, youth and non-minor dependents need and are entitled to at least one committed adult who can provide love, a safe, stable, and secure parenting relationship, an unconditional commitment, and lifelong support.

Achieving Permanency for Families

Preserving the family unit is often in the very best interest of children and youth. Ventura County’s Children and Family Services works closely with birth families to help them identify and grow a support network for helping them during and after they have been reunified with their children.

When children are unable to safely remain at home due to neglect, abuse, being at risk due to neglect or abuse that has occurred, or the death of their birth parents, relatives, non-related extended family members, or known mentors are sought for placement as it is optimal to place children with individuals with whom they have established relationships and that have the ability to provide for all of their needs.

On occasion, searches identify family members that may not have existing relationships with the child/children and/or they may be placed with non-relative resource parents. It is the expectation of the relative or non-relative resource parent to support the child or youth’s journey to reunification with their parents when it is safe.

As a child enters into out-of-home care, a concurrent plan is developed to ensure the permanency needs of each child in care. Legal Guardianship and Adoption are alternative permanency options to Family Reunification. While children remain in out-of-home care, conversations with resource families occur to help educate and gauge their understanding and ability to commit to permanency in circumstances when Family Reunification is not possible. We recognize that resource families are tasked with dual roles, as while they are expected to support reunification efforts, they must also consider an alternative permanent plan that may be necessary, and not only affects the life of a child, but the resource family as well.

Legal Guardianship

Legal Guardianship can provide a child in need with permanency when a person other than the parent is granted legal and physical custody. A Legal Guardian is allowed to make parental decisions about the child’s care and control, residence, education, and medical treatment until the child is 18 years old or until the guardianship is terminated. With Legal Guardianship, the court dependency is dismissed and most often, visitation with parents, siblings and possibly additional birth family members is ordered in support of these significant relationships. With Legal Guardianship, parental rights are not terminated which allows parents who have regained stability to ask the court to restore the child to their custody at any time before the child’s 18th birthday. Should the parents be unable to regain custody, legal guardians are able to come back for the purpose of adoption should it be in the best interests of the child.

Adoption

Adoption is the process of establishing a legal relationship between a child and a parent other than the child’s biological parent, thereby entrusting the relative or non-relative prospective adoptive parent with the responsibility of raising the child by making a lifelong commitment. When adoption is ordered, the court dependency is dismissed and, in most circumstances, legal visitation is terminated. However, the permanency social worker will work with the prospective adoptive family and birth family to further the conversation about continued contact post-adoption in support of continued family connections for the adoptee and significant birth family members. This contact may be informal, or families may choose to enter into a formal post-adoption contact agreement, where a mediator works with all parties to create a plan for continued contact.

Legal Guardianship and Adoption are permanency options for children and youth with court dependencies between the ages of 0-18. Children and Family Services can also assist with Non-Minor Dependent Adoptions for those between the ages of 18-21.