Foster Placements: Why They Succeed and Why They Fail

By Ian Sinclair; Kate Wilson et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven

The Case Studies

Introduction
The qualitative material from the questionnaires just described has considerable value. It draws on the experience of very large numbers of carers and social workers. The questions allowed them to respond in a wide variety of different ways, encapsulating in a few words the criteria against which they were evaluating the placement and why they thought a given outcome had occurred. However, the material also has disadvantages:
It lacks detail–we do not know what exactly the parties did in achieving this result.
It lacks a history and context–we know little of the circumstances within which outcomes did or did not occur and generally (not always) lack information on how the case evolved over time.
It lacks systematic testing–the explanations given by carers are plausible but specific to the particular case, so that we were unable to test them by applying them systematically to all cases.

The case studies which we now consider make up for a number of these disadvantages. They are more detailed, providing concrete examples of what exactly children and carers did. They can be grounded in the history and context of the placement so that it becomes possible to see connections between changes in aspect of the placement and changes in others. They are fuller so that it is possible to see how far the model initially developed from the questionnaires could be used to explain all the case studies or needed further modification. They can themselves be used to develop theory, so that

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