Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Factors Affecting Foster Care Breakdown in Spain

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Factors Affecting Foster Care Breakdown in Spain

Article excerpt

Breakdown of foster care has been defined as the situation in which one of the involved parties terminates the intervention before having achieved the goals established for the case plan. This work presents a study carried out with a Spanish sample of 318 closed cases of children who were placed in foster homes and kinship care. The data were collected through the exhaustive review of the child protection and foster placement files, complemented with interviews of the welfare workers in charge of each case. The rate of breakdown of the entire sample was 26.1%, although it was significantly different in kinship care (19.7%) and foster care (31.2%). The results of this study indicate that the variables related to breakdown depend on the placement modality, either in foster care or kinship care. In the first case, the variables related to the child's characteristics are noteworthy, especially behavior and academic problems, with special relevance in the 9-12-year-old group, and in children who were previously in residential care. In contrast, in kinship care, the parents' problems (prison, mental health) and having some measure of guardianship are the most important. The fact of undergoing foster placement after having lived in various residential homes is transcendental. Lastly, the availability of economic resources and even the foster carers' studies seem to be related to foster breakdown.

Keywords: foster care, kinship care, child care, outcome assessment, disruption, breakdown, placement stability.

La ruptura del acogimiento familiar se ha definido como aquella situación en la que alguna de las partes implicadas causa una terminación de la intervención antes de haber alcanzado los objetivos establecidos en el plan de caso. Este trabajo presenta un estudio llevado a cabo en una muestra española de 318 casos cerrados de niños que fueron acogidos en familia ajena y extensa. Los datos se obtuvieron a través de la revisión exhaustiva de los expedientes de protección y acogimiento, complementada con entrevistas a los técnicos encargados de cada caso. La tasa de ruptura del conjunto de la muestra fue de 26,1%, si bien fue significativamente diferente en familia extensa (19,7%) que en familia ajena (31,2%). Los resultados de este estudio indican que las variables relacionadas con la ruptura dependen de la modalidad del acogimiento, en familia ajena o extensa. En el primer caso destacamos las variables relacionadas con las características del niño, especialmente los problemas de conducta y escolares, con especial relevancia en el grupo de 9-12 años, y el haber estado en acogimiento residencial previamente. En cambio, en extensa resulta más importante la problemática en los padres (prisión, salud mental) y el tener una medida de tutela. También el hecho de que se realice el acogimiento tras pasar por hogares de acogida resulta trascendental. Finalmente, la disponibilidad de recursos económicos e incluso los estudios de los acogedores parecen ser variables relacionadas con la ruptura de la acogida.

Palabras clave: acogimiento familiar, familia extensa, familia ajena, protección infantil, evaluación de resultados, ruptura, permanencia.

Foster care is a measure of child care for the cases in which it is necessary to separate children from their families for their own safety in situations of abuse. The children are placed with another family that voluntarily agrees to care for and educate them for a certain period of time, normally until they can return to their families or be placed with an adoptive family. Until the 1980s, the almost exclusive child care measure was admittance in a center for minors, but since then, new laws have defined the possibility of foster care, also establishing this option as the most desirable, especially for younger children.

In the past 20 years, foster care has been implemented in Spain very unequally, depending on the autonomous communities, but the most obvious conclusion is that it is still far from being the preferential measure, and residential care is still used frequently, even for very young children (Del Valle & Bravo, 2003; Del Valle, Bravo, & López, 2009). …

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