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Safety, family, permanency, and child well-being: what we can learn from children.


This study is an attempt to infuse into discussions about system accountability the notion that children can speak to issues of safety, family, permanency, and well-being in child welfare. The study utilized a cross-sectional survey design involving in-home, semistructured interviews with children ages 6 to 13 in two urban California counties. Of the 100 children who participated in face-to-face interviews, 59 were living with kin caregivers and 41 were living with nonkin. Standardized instruments and measures developed specifically for this study were employed. Findings indicate that while children assess their homes as safe, neighborhood conditions are often challenging. A significant proportion of children reveal less than optimal relationships with their caregivers, and many experience feelings of impermanence. Nevertheless, children report positive regard for the caregiving they receive and are optimistic about the future. Implications for practice and research are addressed.

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