Foster Children: Where They Go and How They Get On

Foster Children: Where They Go and How They Get On

Foster Children: Where They Go and How They Get On

Foster Children: Where They Go and How They Get On

Synopsis

What happens to looked-after children in the longer term? This book analyzes the outcomes of a large-scale study of foster children in the UK. It includes individual case studies and draws extensively on the views of foster children themselves. The authors examine: why children remain fostered or move to different settings (adoption, residential care, their own families or independent living), how the children fare in these different settings and why, what the children feel about what happens to them.

Other important issues covered include the support given to birth families to enable children to return home, the experience of adopters, the ways in which foster care can become more permanent and the experiences of young people in independent living.

In bringing together these results the book provides a wealth of findings, many of them new and challenging. It offers positive and practical recommendations and will be an enduring resource for practitioners, academics, policy makers, trainers, managers and all those concerned with the well-being of looked-after children.

Excerpt

We have listened to children and know that they have very clear ideas about
what they want and need. Getting to live in the right place, not being moved
around, and settling down so that they can fulfil their potential is vital.
(Jacqui Smith (former Minister of State for Health) Department for Educa
tion and Skills 2001, p.2)

This book is about what happens to foster children. The children studied were first contacted at the beginning of 1998. They were then followed up 14 months later in 1999. The primary purpose of this earlier research was to discover how successful foster placements could be defined and measured and how more of them might be produced. This new book takes up the story of these 596 children from 1999 and continues it till January 2001. This time the focus is not on their foster placements but on their 'three-year careers'.

The book arises from concerns about the outcomes of these careers, about the explanations for these outcomes and about the feasibility of changing them. We wanted to know if the children 'got to the right place'. If so, did they settle there and 'fulfil their true potential'? Would these outcomes have been better if they had gone somewhere else, or more support had been provided where they actually went? How feasible would it have been to bring this about? How far did the outcomes reflect their experience in the previous foster placement?

Against this background, the book concentrates on three major sets of issues.

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