Legal Partnership for Permanency®

No child in the child welfare system achieves permanency without involvement of the legal system. To expedite permanency effective links between the child welfare and legal systems must be in place.

Our approach has reduced the average stay for children with a goal of adoption by more than 11 months.


Family Design Resources (FDR) has developed a legal services model that successfully expedites permanency for children by first identifying and then resolving legal barriers.

We employ, train and place paralegals in child welfare agencies to support the legal work needed to achieve permanency. We focus on:

  • Increasing agency capacity to implement concurrent planning.
  • Providing a centralized resource to access expert legal research and information about child welfare.
  • Developing tools and practices that hold promise for engaging fathers of children in foster care.
  • Strengthening and preserving children’s connections to their families.

Family Design Resources is a contractor for the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network Legal Services Initiative (SWAN LSI), a program of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services/Office of Children, Youth and Families. SWAN LSI was the recipient of a 2005 Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. State and federal monies are used to support this program in Pennsylvania, and similar arrangements may also be possible elsewhere.


  • The program has been invaluable to our county. The use of paralegals has opened up time for the caseworkers to concentrate on actual casework and less time on preparation of the Court paperwork. Our paralegals jump in and help in all aspects of the case.

    Public Child Welfare Worker

  • Our Paralegal has allowed us to reduce some of the Court requirements of our Adoption workers, hereby reducing their work load. It has offered us the opportunity to expedite permanency for children, achieve ASFA time frames usually exceeding them.

    Public Child Welfare Worker

To find out more about how the Legal Partnership for Permanency® can help reduce the time children wait for permanency, please contact the Program/Development office.