The previous chapter showed that, by the time a child arrives in care, a great deal of thought and work should already have been done. In this chapter we turn to the attributes of the placement itself that are commonly said to be associated with successful outcomes. As with the previous chapter we will find that there is a high degree of consensus in the field which is not altogether justified by the strength of the available evidence. We begin by considering interventions for the promotion of stable foster placements before turning to the potential role of the biological family in foster care through sibling co-placement, kinship care and parental visiting. We then consider methods for dealing with separation distress, foster carer support and remuneration and external case review before finishing with a brief overview of the issues involved in planning for discharge.
This issue of placement stability is the subject of a later chapter, so the empirical arguments for and against permanency planning can be deferred until then. At this stage, we can confine our attention to foster care programmes intended to minimize placement disruption. One such programme that targets twelve- to eighteen-year-olds with a history of placement disruption and problem behaviour has been described and evaluated by Taber and Proch (1987). In this study, the authors tracked the placement stability of 51 young people accepted into the programme, and for each case they assembled a planning team consisting of the young person, significant others, the assessing clinician, a social worker and a programme staff member. After placement, the team expanded to include the agency social worker and the young person’s care givers. Foster children were actively involved in case planning and attended all meetings at which their case was discussed. A comprehensive assessment identified the young person’s developmental needs and the services required for a stable placement, and a ‘service prescription’