Children in Foster Care

By James G. Barber; Paul H. Delfabbro | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

The progress and satisfaction of children in care

Introduction

Foster children are in an invidious position: most of them have a home somewhere but for a variety of reasons they must move out of it and live with strangers until some other adult works out what to do next. The dependence and powerlessness of children in this predicament are obvious, and the obstacles to their development seem formidable. On the face of it, it seems unreasonable to expect foster children to slip quietly and happily into placement, at least in the short to medium term. The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the extent to which the foster children in our sample did adjust to care. In the first part of the chapter, we present the children’s placement movements and psychosocial well-being at each stage of the study. As previously indicated (see Chapter 3), Stage 1 spanned the period from intake to four months, Stage 2 from four to eight months, Stage 3 from eight months to one year, and Stage 4 from one to two years. Each section begins with a diagrammatic presentation of placement movements, in which a stable placement has been operationally defined as a single address throughout the period. An unstable placement, then, was one where a child had to change placement at least once in the period.

In addition to placement stability and psychosocial adjustment, this chapter also presents the feedback of foster children on their placements. A key tenet of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is that children’s views should be taken into account in any decision that is likely to affect their well-being or position in life (Gilligan 2000). As previously indicated (see Chapters 1 and 4), this view now features strongly in alternative care policies around the world. Despite this, few systematic attempts have been made to obtain information regarding children’s satisfaction with care. One explanation for this may be that this kind of research is inherently difficult for logistical reasons (see Gilbertson and Barber 2002). The requirement in many jurisdictions to obtain consent from foster carers, parents, service providers and children inevitably limits access to many children in care. Furthermore, doubts have also been raised about the extent to which

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