An Examination of the Impact of Permanency on Young Adults’ Special Education Experiences


Social Work

Date of this version


Document Type



adolescents, adoption, foster care, school social work, special education


Educational outcomes for youths in foster care are poor compared with those of their peers who are not child welfare involved. This qualitative study examined the impact of adoption on the educational experiences of older youths with disabilities who were adopted from the child welfare system. Researchers conducted interviews with families of older youths, as well as analysis of youths’ individualized education plans (IEPs), from both before and after they were adopted. Findings indicate that, before adoption, youths often had inaccurate or incomplete disability identification in their IEPs, fewer opportunities to build community and peer relationships, and lower-quality IEPs than they did after their adoption. Implications for social work practice, particularly in schools, are discussed, with an emphasis on how school social workers can support permanency efforts for older youths.

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Children & Schools