Permanency Bench Cards containing hundreds of “Questions to Ask” to increase permanency outcomes

New “Permanency Bench Cards” and “Flow Charts” were developed in order to give hands on tools to courts, judges, children's counsel, and Child and Family Teams to improve permanency outcomes for children and youth in foster care. They were recently published by the Judicial Council of California and developed by permanency expert Gail Johnson Vaughan, PsyD, in collaboration with Kelly Beck, JD, of the National Institute for Permanency Family Connectedness at Seneca Family of Agencies.

Gail stated that the inspiration to create the “Permanency Bench Cards” for the court system came from the belief that although California’s child welfare statutes, regulations and policies set out requirements to achieve timely permanency, they do not provide the judges and courts with the necessary understanding of permanency philosophy and practice implementation. Therefore, these cards and flow charts contain hundreds of practical possible questions for judges and others to ask of children and families in order to ensure that everything possible is done to ultimately find permanent families and connections.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Questions Children and Youth Want Judges to Ask Them
  • Child and Family Team Plan Requirements
  • Unpacking the “No”
  • What do Children Fear about Adoption
  • Efforts to Locate and Engage Relatives
  • Post-Permanency Practices
  • Identification and Removal of Barriers to Permanency
  • Specialized Permanency Services
  • Guardianship with Current Nonrelative Caregiver or Another Appropriate Person
  • Consideration of Reinstatement of Reunification Services
  • Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA)

Gail Johnson Vaughan is the former executive director of Sierra Forever Families where she championed permanency for foster children and youth for many years. She continued her work as a passionate advocate who raised awareness for permanency challenging the lack of effective permanency practice and policy. These “Bench Cards” and “Flow Charts” are a culmination of her life’s work and she deeply hopes it will help many children and youth find their lifelong families. 

View the documents here: