At a time when fostering has become a cornerstone of social work policy, with 40,000 children placed in foster homes, this book highlights the personal tragedy that occurs when relationships between children and their foster parents break down.
At a time when fostering has become a cornerstone of social work policy, with 40,000 children placed in foster homes, this book highlights the personal tragedy that occurs when relationships between children and their foster parents break down. It provides the first detailed examination of placement breakdown in 20 years, a period in which major developments have occurred regarding services for deprived children. The book presents research findings on a range of foster placements - planned long-term, short-term and "intermediate" fosterings - in three contrasting social work agencies. Detailed information was gathered on over 530 foster placements, and the features of successful and unsuccessful fosterings are identified. In particular, the impact on placement outcome of three themes is explored: the early rearing histories of children; the maintenance of children's social networks; and placement-related factors. In addition, the authors offer a more intensive study of ten placements in which foster home breakdown occurred, and discuss the perspectives of all participants - social workers, foster parents, natural parents, teachers and children. Case-study material of two children provides illustration of the research findings. The maintenance of children's social networks - with natural parents, siblings and peers - is shown to be especially important for successful fostering. Finally, the authors consider the future development of foster care, and advocate the further development of a more specialist, professional approach.
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