Summary and Conclusions
This book has been about foster placements. More specifically it has been about the purposes of placements, what foster children want from them and what helps them succeed. In reviewing our results we need to look at both purposes and means. Are the explicit or implicit purposes of placement appropriate? If they are, what changes might make them more likely to be realised?
Our sample of foster children represented, as far as we could tell, a cross-section of foster children in the care system in England at a particular point in time. We have provided a picture of their characteristics and of what happened to them 14 months later. Carers, social workers and foster children told us why, in their view, the placements were more or less successful. We have tried to test their explanations statistically and compare our results with those of others.
Our findings are in many ways very encouraging. The great majority of foster children who answered our questionnaires said they were happy with their placements. These favourable opinions were probably shared by children not responding to the questionnaire, who were, after allowing for age, no more likely to experience placement breakdown. Moreover, the children's endorsement offoster care is in keeping with other evidence. Our case studies illustrated excellent practice. Our questionnaires gave ample evidence of the commitment of carers. Social workers judged that around seven out of ten placements were going or had gone very well, a proportion similar to those found by Rowe and her colleagues (1989) and Cliffe with Berridge (1991).