In the previous chapter, we looked at the predictors and the progress of children in our sample who experienced repeated placement breakdown as a result of their behaviour. We saw that placement failure was distressingly predictable on the basis of very few intake characteristics, and that children in this group were highly likely to bounce around foster placements until they were consigned to institutional care, ran away or ‘aged out’ of the alternative care system altogether. What these sterile indicators do not tell us, however, is what it felt like to be excluded and how the children explained the experience to themselves. Nor do the details we have presented so far tell us anything much about what, if anything, could have been done to salvage the placements. To answer such questions, it is necessary to talk to the parties involved, particularly the children and their foster carers. In this chapter we summarize the results of our discussions with disruptive children and their carers. We look first at 13 children in our sample whose placements broke down ostensibly because the child’s behaviour was unacceptable to the carer. In these discussions, we sought to understand the child’s reactions and, importantly, also to obtain the child’s advice on what they and the foster care system can learn from their experience. We spoke next to foster carers of children who had been evicted from placement in order to benefit from their experiences as well. In all, we interviewed 19 carers whose case files had recorded that they evicted a child of the target age (ten to fifteen years) because of the child’s disruptive behaviour.
Information about the placement breakdown was collected via semi-structured interview schedule with 13 children aged between ten and fifteen years who had experienced at least one shortened placement ostensibly because the carer found the child’s behaviour to be unacceptable. (Children under the age of ten years were excluded from interviews at the insistence of