From the Chronicle of Social Change — When Ta’nika first met Victoria Sweet, she had her doubts.

“I hated her because I didn’t know her,” said the 19-year-old Bronx native. She was in foster care, and most foster care professionals don’t stay involved in those young lives for long. Sweet, then a staffer at the New York City foster agency caring for Ta’Nika, Good Shepherd Services, won over the younger woman with long, candid talks. Then, Sweet made a more durable commitment with the help of a unique tool, one many foster care agencies nationwide are starting to use, called Permanency Pacts.

“[Victoria] made it possible to have a relationship with her by showing she is genuinely interested in me, and my family, too,” says Ta’nika, who declined to provide her last name. “You need to feel like someone cares about you, especially when you don’t feel like anybody cares about you.”

“Permanency,” the goal of finding life-long stability and relationships for youth in foster care, is an obsessive focus of most foster care agencies nationwide. But while most foster youth either return to their parents, live with relatives or get adopted, some of them still transition into adulthood without finding a permanent home.

Permanency Pacts aim to help foster youth create and confirm expectations for their relationships with adults, regardless of the paths their lives take.

“I feel like even though it is just a piece of paper and there is no guarantee that a person will keep their promise, it helps to have it,” says Ta’Nika.

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