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How Important is Permanency Planning for Children? Considerations for Pediatricians Involved in Child Protection

WADDELL, CHARLOTTE, M.D., M.Sc.1; MACMILLAN, HARRIET, M.D., M.Sc.2; MARIE PIETRANTONIO, ANNA, M.S.W.3

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: August 2004 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 285-292
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ABSTRACT. "Permanency planning" refers to maximizing stability in living situations for children in the care of child protection agencies. This issue concerns pediatricians who may be involved in assessing and providing care for these children. In North America, permanency planning is widely advocated if not always effectively implemented. The concept, however, is still controversial from the perspective of protecting parents' interests. This paper examines the principles and evidence underlying the concept of permanency planning in order to ascertain whether emphasizing it remains justified in terms of children's emotional health and development. Three related bodies of literature are reviewed: requirements for healthy child development, conditions that create risk for children, and outcomes for children in care. The findings suggest that permanency planning is vitally important for children and is not only justified, but should be given major emphasis. The implications for pediatricians are discussed.

1Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

2Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

Address for reprints: Dr. Charlotte Waddell, Assistant Professor, Mental Health Evaluation and Community Consultation Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2250 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1W6; e-mail: cwaddell@interchange.ubc.ca.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.