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Evidence-Based Strategies

3-5-7 Permanency Quest

The 3-5-7 Model was developed to facilitate healing, reunification, and recovery for children and youth ages 5-17 in the child welfare system. Community partners, including the county attorney, public defender, local GALs, CASA, and DHHS supervisors, work in partnership to address the issues that may impede permanency for the child.   The overarching objective is to assist children find and maintain permanency with either their biological parents, adoptive parents or through a plan (for aging out).

3-5-7 has a strengths-based, empowerment approach in the belief that children are resilient and can renew and rebuild relationships.  It helps children to clarify and integrate losses for children who may have been victimized, but are not viewed as victims.  

The 3-5-7 Model incorporates 3 tasks, 5 conceptual questions and 7 interpersonal skill elements to support this work.

The three (3) tasks of the model engage children and youth, guiding practices that support their work of grieving and building relationships.

  • Clarification:   Explores life events providing opportunities to reconcile losses;
  • Integration:     Focuses activities on rebuilding relationships through the attachment process;
  • Actualization: Assists in visualizing future goals establishing permanent connections.

Life Books are a tool for these tasks and provide a history of each child and youth’s work over time. They reflect participant’s identity development, reconciliation of losses, and recognition of connections with significant people and experiences. 

The five (5) conceptual questions of the model support the work of the three tasks and address the following:

  • Who am I? -- identity formation
  • What happened to me?--separation and loss; the grieving process
  • Where am I going?-- trust and safety in relationships; attachment cycle
  • How will I get there? -- recognizing those who will continue to provide support; relational permanency
  • When will I know I belong? -- feelings of safety, well-being and a readiness for future

Together, the three tasks and five questions of 3-5-7 guide planning and decision-making processes for safety, permanency, and well-being.

Finally, seven (7) skill elements and interpersonal abilities guide the activities of professionals, parents, and caregivers to support the work of children and youth:

  • to engage in the work of giving voice to their feelings,
  • to listen and be present to their expression of feelings,
  • to respond briefly as they process their thoughts and feelings,
  • to affirm their perspectives and stories,
  • to create a sense of safety within helping relationships and environmental settings,
  • to recognize that painful feelings are expressed in behaviors, and
  • to facilitate the healing process.

Content derived from Darla Henry's 3-5-7 Model: A Practice Approach to Permanency, 2012.


The 3-5-7 Model was developed by Darla Henry, Harrisburg, PA.

Henry, D. (1999). Resilience in maltreated children: Implications for special needs adoption.  Child Welfare, 78(5), 519-540.

Henry, D. (2005).  The 3-5-7 Model: Preparing children for permanency.  Children and Youth Services Review, 27, 197–212.

Henry, D., & Manning, G. (2011). Integrating child welfare and mental health practices: Actualizing youth permanency using the 3-5-7 Model.  American Humane Association Journal, 26(1), 30-48.

Prevention matrix




Clearinghouse rating(s)

California Evidence Based Clearinghouse (CBEC) – NR.  Not yet rated.  There are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for the 3-5-7 Model.  However, see CEBC for description.  


The core of 3-5-7 focuses on loss, identity, attachment (Morton 84) relationships, and safety (Henry 99).  Siu and Hogan (90b) presented a continuum for the clinical themes of separation, loss, identity, continuity, and crisis. Ignoring continuity increases the child’s confusion about identity; loss is connected to the child’s identity; separation from a significant person constitutes a crisis to the child/ and threat to identity increases the child’s vulnerability to crisis. 


Please see Darla Henry's work on 3-5-7.


State partners

Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation

Nebraska Children and NCAPF Board Grantee communities

Hastings – Adams, Clay, Webster, and & Nuckolls Counties.  

This grantee has created the name Permanency Quest for their work. Permanency Quest uses the 3-5-7 model and has added therapeutic tools such as trauma assessments, support groups for children ages 5-12, and support groups for ages 13-18, under the guidance of Dr. Beverly Patitz.  

Related strategies

Project Everlast

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