The Youth Connections Scale (YCS)

Assessment Rating:
B – Psychometrics Demonstrated
See entire scale

Annette Semanchin-Jones, PhD, Traci L. LaLiberte, PhD,

Description / Purpose:

The Youth Connections Scale (YCS) identifies the quality and quantity of meaningful connections a youth has with caring adult(s).

Outcomes include:

  • Youth are able to identify the adults with whom they have meaningful connections and are able to rely on.
  • Youth and Caseworkers can identify strengths and gaps in areas/activities for which they may require a consistent and reliable adult in their life.
  • Through discussion and ongoing dialogue, youth and workers are able to increase their meaningful connections and see change over time, reducing gaps and increasing areas for which they have the support of a caring adult. .

The Youth Connections Scale (YCS) was developed to fill a gap in the field to measure and evaluate efforts to identify and strengthen supportive connections between youth and caring adults. Social workers or other caring adults support the youth in completing the instrument and in doing so facilitate ongoing discussion and learning related to the maintenance and development of permanent connections. The YCS is scored on a scale from 0 to 100 and consists of four sections which measure: (1) number of meaningful connections or relationships the youth has with supportive adults; (2) strength of those connections, including the frequency of contact and the consistency of the support provided; (3) specific types of supports received; and (4) the overall level of connectedness of foster youth to caring and supportive adults. The instrument is designed to be repeated over time in order to identify changes in the quantity and quality of the youth’s connectedness.

Target Population: The target population is youth ages 15-21 years who have been involved in/are currently in out of home care.

Time to Administer: 20-30 minutes

Completed By: This tool is designed to be used by youth ages 15-21 years. Youth can utilize the tool independently; however, it is designed to be administered through a conversation with a social worker or another caring adult.

Modalities Available: Pen and Paper

Scoring Information: Hand scored. The YCS is scored on a scale from 0 to 100. The answers used to complete the form are based upon the youth’s perception and may not be over ridden, influenced or changed by the adult. Through conversation, answers to each of the 4 sections of the tool are completed. The caring adult is then able to score the instrument and calculate a score.

Languages Available:

Training Requirements for Intended Users: No minimum requirements. An online implementation guide and scoring instruction is available free of charge. The guide is easy to understand and written at a high school reading level. An online tutorial offers step by step instruction on engaging the youth in conversation around supportive connections as well as the implementation of the instrument and the scoring. Training resources and the Implementation Guide are publicly available.

Availability: Online, free of charge at A direct link to the tool is available. The manual citation is Semanchin-Jones, A., & LaLiberte, T. (2014). Measuring relational permanence. [Curriculum Module] St. Paul, MN: Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota.

Contact Information

Company: Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, University of Minnesota
Name: Dr. Traci LaLiberte
Phone: (612) 624-2279
Fax: (612) 624-3744

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "B – Psychometrics Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 1 published, peer-reviewed study that has established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Semanchin Jones, A. & LaLiberte, T. (2013). Measuring youth connections: A component of relational permanence for foster youth. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), 509-517. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.12.006


Participants — 53 adolescents (15-20 years)

Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified


This paper describes the development and preliminary validation of the Youth Connections Scale (YCS), which is designed to be completed jointly by youth with their workers to measure the youths' perceptions about their level of connectedness and the strength of their relational permanence. Pilot results show the YCS has high test–retest reliability, with a statistically significant and strong correlation between scores at T1 and scores at T2 (r=.88, p <001). The pilot also demonstrates good concurrent validity, with a statistically significant and moderately strong correlation (r=.74, pb.001), when comparing the Youth Connections Scale to the Social Support Behaviors (SSB) Scale.

Date Reviewed: September 2018 (Originally reviewed in September 2018)