Moreover, these placements have a significantly greater chance of breaking down compared with those involving children. Most foster parents said that they believed breakdown could have been avoided in some circumstances: if they had received clearer information about the child prior to the placement, if they had received support and relief during the placement, and if all parties to the placement sat down and discussed alternatives prior to a placement ending. One of the key aims of the model is to prevent local authority foster placement breakdown. She tried to take her life several times and things like that (…) When those people at Child and Youth Psychiatry told me after, that she had tried to take her own life and was in the ER and everything – and that we should keep a close eye on her – an ordinary little family, like we are going to sit awake every night and watch over her the whole time – that’s not going to work either but that’s what they expected us to do. Email:, Email:, /doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1447-0748.2003.00095.x?needAccess=true. Three foster parents described their hurt feelings and connected them to the failure of their mission. Although the placement may have ended in breakdown, foster parents described a continuing relationship between their families and child which was of lasting significance. Email:, Email: [email protected] Publication date: 01 December 2003 Register . Foster children, foster families, and the child protection system feel the effect of placement breakdown. While the overall numbers of children in care have varied over the years, the use of care placements have been a stable part of the child welfare system since its foundation. The 1970s had seen a dramatic increase in the proportion of children in care – contrary to the intentions of the framers of the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act. We wouldn’t expect any single factor (or combination of factors) to trigger a placement breakdown. If they enter into this role believing that they are surrogate parents until children are grown up, foster parents certainly risk feeling like they have failed in their parenting role. After years of experience, fostering had become a lifestyle for some. Separation from siblings was associated with instability in a majority of studies, though conflict between siblings in a foster placement may also contribute to placement breakdown… Subsequently, we attempted to identify how foster families who are considered to be at a high risk of placement breakdown could be given effective support. We sought answers to the following research questions: How do foster parents describe their reasons for becoming, and their lives as, foster parents? Get a foster placement right and the effects on a child can be nothing short of miraculous. Placement breakdown did not lead to a complete cessation in contact between the foster parents and children. Oosterman and colleagues did not find a significant association between foster care type (non-kin or kinship care) and placement breakdown (i.e., placement instability). This site uses cookies. In another case, the child was described as being passed back and forth between social services and CYP which led to neither the child nor the foster parents getting the supports they wanted. Disruption is the word used to describe a placement, which ends before it was supposed to. We recruited a purposive sample of traditional foster families (no previous relationship to the child) to participate in this study. Those who met the inclusion criteria and who wanted to participate in the study contacted the primary researcher. At the same time, our study is about foster parents’ own perceptions and cannot say anything about the kinds of supports that social services actually offered. In all cases, placements ended as suddenly as they had begun. ‘I mean they must think of us as huge traitors and that’s what has hurt me the most that they feel like we somehow abandoned them’, or ‘Somehow it feels like we gave up even if that wasn’t our intention. Contact between foster parents and their previous foster children took place without the planning or support of the social services. In particular, adolescent risk behaviour put high demands on some foster families: She was depressed and was supposed to take medication for it and everything but it wasn’t any better. Terms that refer to these unplanned terminations of foster care placements are: breakdown, disruption, frequent moves or – in general – placement instability (e.g., Rock et al., 2015). Due to the lack of research directly conducted with foster-carers a narrative approach was applied to interviews of a placement breakdown with foster carers. In one case, the foster parents described how their biological children were being negatively impacted by the placement. They often experience increased behavioural problems and emotional difficulties (Newton et al., 2000) and have generally poorer long-term prognoses (Vinnerljung and Sallnäs, 2008). By continuing to browse The terms ‘help’ and ‘save’ were frequently used. ‘She still wanted to visit us and could do it sometimes. Foster care placement breakdown. BSc (Hons) June 2015 Breakdowns, or unplanned moves, are much less likely in younger children. Nine participants from seven foster families in the UK were recruited. While foster carers experience the rewards and challenges of parenting vulnerable and complex adolescents, some of these placements break down. Children and youth may also come into care on a compulsory basis under the Compulsory Care of Young Persons Act (1990: 52) (LVU) if there is substantial risk that the child’s health or development will suffer due to conditions in the home environment or because of the young person’s own behaviour and if care cannot be given on a voluntary basis. As a child in foster care, you were more likely to be placed with a local authority than with an independent fostering agency (IFA). Foster parents ideas of why children are placed and of the problems they exhibit, revealed children coming from difficult home environments who largely also have behaviour problems themselves or show other signs of ‘doing poorly’. He was like a wagon behind me also bit by bit (…) he followed me everywhere and almost never left my side. A review of the literature has shown that placement breakdown is a frequently occurring phenomenon, occurring in between 20–40 percent of placements (Egelund, 2006; Oosterman et al., 2007). The phenomenon of placement breakdown has been studied since the 1960s. Part two is an empirical study of foster-carers experiences of placement that has broken down recently. We use cookies to improve your website experience. Some children and young people will experience a placement breakdown, this can be due to various reasons causing an abrupt end to a foster care placement. From their perspective, they point to the need for: More involvement of foster parents in the matching process; including that foster parents need complete information to decide, for themselves, if they are the right family to meet the needs of specific children. Research also indicates that caregivers, social services and biological parents, influence the breakdown process but findings from these studies are not consistent. A number of patterns emerged in how foster parents described contact with social workers. If a placement does break down, it impacts not only the child but often also biological parents, social workers, and foster parents. Document Type: Research Article. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with foster parents in their homes. Include them in the child’s care review in order for all to understand why the placement ended and to determine if and how contact may continue between the child and the foster home. This may leave the child at risk of rejection and may result in a child re-living the same kinds of problems experienced in their families of origin. Breakdown of Foster Care Placement: Carer Perspectives and System Factors. I declare that Factors contributing to the breakdown of foster care placements: “ oster parents’ F and adolescents’ perspectives” is my own work and that all the sources that I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references. Foster parents described with dissatisfaction the level of support they received after placement breakdown. Potential respondents were identified via a network of social workers who work with foster care in seven municipalities. The motives of foster parents, their family and work circumstances, Foster parent perceptions of placement breakdown, The challenge of assessing credibility when the alleged victims have intellectual disabilities, Arranging stability for children in long-term out-of-home care, Foster carer strain and its impact on parenting and placement outcomes for adolescents, Breakdown of foster care placement: Carer perspectives and system factors, Adolescents’ perspective on placement moves and congregate settings: Complex and cumulative instabilities in out-of-home care, In and out of care: A profile and analysis of children in the out-of-home care system in Sweden, Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysis, Children and youth in foster care: Disentangling the relationship between problem behaviours and number of placements, Disruptions in foster care: A review and meta-analysis, Placement and permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care by prior inpatient mental health treatment, Child protection, permanency planning and children’s right to family life, A shared experience of fragmentation: Making sense of foster placement breakdown, Breakdown of teenage placements in Swedish foster and residential care, Placement disruption in treatment foster care, Research on placement moves: Seeking the perspective of foster children, Into adulthood: A follow-up study of 718 young people who were placed in out-of-home care during their teens, Patterns of instability: Moves within the care system, their reasons, context and consequences, Stockholms universitet, institutionen för socialt arbete, The trouble with foster care: The impact of stressful events on foster carers, The road to placement breakdown: Foster parents' experiences of the events surrounding the unexpected ending of a child's placement in their care. Placement breakdown significantly increases the chances that a foster parent will decide to end their role as a foster parent (Wilson et al., 2000). It was minimal at best with the only measure offered being a termination meeting with social services. In addition to these quick placements, foster parents describe the problem of not having enough information about the child’s difficulties. Given the poor outcomes associated with placement breakdown, research has focused on identifying risk factors associated with breakdown (Rostill-Brookes et al., 2011) and studies have, to a large extent been based on the examination of social work case files (Egelund et al., 2010; Unrau, 2007). The Foster Care Training Hub is part of The Big Initiative which is a multi-agency collaboration bringing together expert practitioners to ... We all begin a new foster placement with high hopes that a “forever” family has been created. ‘Then the social services called and called us into question and then they just told us, the child is not coming back to you (…) everything became one big…, I still think back and wonder what happened (…) we never really had any kind of ending where we like sat together and talked about what happened that day.’. From the researcher’s standpoint, lack of cordial relationship between carers and children is the leading cause of placement breakdown in most cases. (2004), we have included those placements that end because of a social worker’s displeasure with the placement, the foster parent refuses to continue to provide care, the child runs away or refuses to remain in the placement, or because the parent withdraws consent to placement. Contact ranged from sporadic, for example, sending birthday wishes, to regular and frequent communication. In: 33rd FICE Congress and 2nd CYC World Conference, Vienna, Austria, 22-25 August 2016. By . ‘We’ve had a lot [of children] over the years. ‘To be able to help a child. It could also be described as a relief. Regardless of these different starting points, our respondents described wanting to care for a child, to do a good deed and, most importantly, to offer a family. One problem shared by child welfare systems across the western world is placement breakdown – the unexpected, unplanned and sudden termination of a child’s placement, whether in foster care or in another care arrangement (Unrau, 2007). ‘(…) In some way it leaves a trace, a long, long time afterwards’, or ‘You are completely at your end because you, I mean she has demanded so much of your (…) In a way it’s like you’ve been burnt out by this whole period’. The stress that can come with being a foster parent, for example coping with hyperactivity in a child, difficulties in their relations with the biological parents, and problems in contact with social workers can lead to an increased feeling of stress and thus increase the risk of placement breakdown (Farmer et al., 2005). Sarah Louise Lamswood . Brierley agrees: “Financially, when you consider a children’s home placement costs about £125,000 a year, and a foster placement is about £25,000, this is a very cost-effective solution. Key carer factors identified in this study as being associated with foster-care placement breakdown include lower levels of cognitive empathy, lower levels of family support, less positive relationship of the foster-carer with their partner and lower satisfaction with care-giving and the role of being a foster-carer. Those who had experienced more than one placement breakdown could choose themselves which experience to talk about. Create a link to share a read only version of this article with your colleagues and friends. Placements broke down mainly because of behavioural problems of the foster child, foster parents' parenting problems, and conflicts between birth and foster parents. Foster children with behavioural problems, older foster children, foster children denied treatment, and foster children in care because of sexual abuse were more at risk of breakdown. ‘Social services directed me to CYP and CYP directed to social services and they can’t work together’. Breakdown was described as creating a large sore and discomfort as well as feelings that the foster parent was about to ‘break apart or go mad’. Sarah Louise Lamswood . The initial placement of a child was often acute and hasty. Foster children with behavioural problems, older foster children, foster children denied treatment, and foster children in care because of sexual abuse were more at risk of breakdown. in the University of Hull . The law is goal oriented (Andersson, 2001) and states that the Social Welfare Board should, ‘on the bases of democracy and solidarity… work to ensure that children and youth grow up in a safe environment’ (SoL chapter 5 § 1). Placement breakdown is a frequently occurring phenomenon in the context of out-of-home care. FICE International. Affiliations: *Robyn Gilbertson is Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Social Administration and Social Work, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001. The Foster Care Training Hub is part of The Big Initiative which is a multi-agency collaboration bringing together expert practitioners to provide exceptional resources free of charge : ... To identify the actions that can be taken to minimise placement breakdown and its impact; Foster children (Argles, 1983) ... M.M. Pre‐service training of foster Regardless of the reasons for the placement breakdown, foster parents stories shared a theme of wanting more support. Our findings suggest that foster parents are treated as a normal family without being offered relief and that, to a great extent, they are left on their own to look after and handle the children in their care. Some society journals require you to create a personal profile, then activate your society account, You are adding the following journals to your email alerts, Did you struggle to get access to this article? They described having difficulty establishing and then having very little contact with their social workers. Becoming foster parents was complicated upon the arrival of a foster child into their families. When a foster care placement comes to an end (reunification or breakdown), CFSS or juvenilejudges decideon the needoffuturehelp. Bombach, Clara, 2016. In total, eight foster parents participated in this study. These were her sisters so it was terrible and she felt really bad because she had already experienced difficult separation and she felt like these really were her own sisters’. Lean Library can solve it. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Disruptive behaviour of adolescents, including substance abuse, inappropriate sexual … In the first case, the variables related to the child's characteristics are noteworthy, especially behavior and academic problems, with special relevance in the 9-12-year-old group, and in children who were previously in residential care. How to prevent breakdown of fostering relationships . Child and Family Social Work , 9, 141-152. All respondents received children placed via municipal social services. For them, it is not the behaviour as such but rather the social services care planning (or lack thereof) and insufficient support and relief that lead to placement instability for children with behaviour problems. ‘We never did have an ending with social services. We were told that we could be her “contact family (…)” It wasn’t anything written down anywhere but I have actually seen Anna every month (…) I tried to contact social services. Every year, thousands of children and young people find themselves placed in out-of-home care. Proceedings of ‏The 5th International Conference on New Findings On Humanities and Social Sciences. Sometimes despite all efforts, a placement ends quickly before a pre-disruption meeting can be held. Our approach is based on our interpretation of placement breakdown as an experience immediately and directly connected to the context of caring in which it occurs. The second aim is to analyse and interpret these findings in relation to the wider social and cultural context (Larkin et al., 2006) – in this case in the context of social services and the provision of out-of-home care. There wasn’t a lot that agreed with what they had described, though maybe they didn’t know more either (…) we received a girl who we thought just had problems with her parents and didn’t have problems herself’. But each foster placement also exposes a child to the possibility of placement breakdown. Before going on to explore the consequences of this it is interesting to note some of the reasons that may lead to an abrupt end to a foster care placement: Reasons for Placement Breakdown: Research from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, ‘’Fostering Placement Stability” suggests five factors that appear to cause frequent placement moves: a change of social worker, i.e. David Berridge and Hedy Cleaver (1987) Foster home breakdown Oxford: Blackwell 0 631 15817 0. A crisis in foster care is suggested by many of the national and international published reports. This product could help you, Accessing resources off campus can be a challenge. For more information view the SAGE Journals Article Sharing page. ‘But it is kind of nice because I have contact with her and she calls from time to time so actually we’ve found our way back to staying in contact’. Foster care is however a vulnerable intervention, and questions can be raised as to its efficacy. At least in the perception of these foster parents, there is a discrepancy between the statutory obligations of the social services toward the foster home and the foster parents’ perceptions of the kind of information and support they actually receive. If you have the appropriate software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice. In spite of the intentions of social services, the foster parents experienced a lack of information and communication and a failure to receive support and relief. (2018) , who reviewed studies comparing children in kinship and non-kinship foster care, found strong evidence that kinship placements were relatively stable. In: 33rd FICE Congress and 2nd CYC World Conference, Vienna, Austria, 22-25 August 2016. Keywords: foster care; placement breakdown; placement instability Document Type: Research Article Affiliations: *Robyn Gilbertson is Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Social Administration and Social Work, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001. It was extremely dramatic when she arrived because she was screaming and hitting people and we couldn’t ever get her in here’ or ‘They called at 9 o’clock in the morning and she was here by twelve (…) I told them to drive slowly so that I could get the room tidied up and it all went so fast’. However, interviews with foster parents have shown that it is not just the child’s behaviour that is an important consideration but rather it is in combination with ‘system failures’ – including a lack of pertinent information about the child prior to placement and a lack of supports to foster families when they asked for help – that placements, which otherwise could be saved, end up in unnecessary breakdown (Gilbertson and Barber, 2003). The road to breakdown also included a lack of knowledge about the child’s needs, insufficient understanding of the placement process, a difficult relationship with the social worker, and a lack of individualized service with the right supports at the right time. These approaches in quantitative research risk, as Engelund et al. I mean, you’ve taken on the responsibility [to be foster parents] and they could at least be in touch’. Our results are supported by Hyde and Kammerer’s (2009) study where children in care experienced changes in placement because of behaviour problems connected to difficult life situations prior to coming into care and foster parents’ uncertainty around how to manage their behaviour. I have read and accept the terms and conditions, View permissions information for this article. About stability Stability means ensuring that every child in care is found the right placement as soon as possible. When this happens, a disruption meeting may be held after the child has moved on. ", This need for support was connected to a desire that a child be referred to additional treatment services (e.g. Login failed. Satisfaction at getting support quickly did not necessarily mean that a problem was solved quickly or even that the social worker could deal with the situation directly. But when it goes wrong, the results can easily reinforce prior placement … Two foster parents describe a return to energy as something positive that happened after a child was moved. ‘We called and called but we never got any support. All had maintained some kind of contact although the relationship clearly had changed. Foster-care, foster placements, looked after children, placement breakdown, placement stability, substitute care Introduction The experiences of children who are looked after by social services place them at greatly increased risk for a range of negative outcomes. I mean we weren’t expecting it but it has been continuous the whole time’ or, ‘Now so many children and young people have come and gone that it isn’t strange for anyone in the family if a new child arrives. In spite of this study’s limited scope, foster parents are an important source of knowledge about the foster caring experience and the need to improve care provision. Here inside he could spend time in his room but if we went anywhere or, as he said himself I’m like your wagon. A child’s problematic behaviour could be used as an explanation for the problem of instability in out-of-home care when it may be a lack of planning on the part of social services that has contributed to the problem. If ever anything happened and Linda needed something, we’d be there for her and I think she knows it’. The paper introduces the difficulties facing children and carers as a result of foster placements break down. In case of a breakdown, the latter services decide in agreement with the foster care services whether a new foster care placement or residential care is the most appropriate. Young people in long-term foster care are at risk of experiencing poor social, emotional, behavioural and educational outcomes. Cited by lists all citing articles based on Crossref citations.Articles with the Crossref icon will open in a new tab. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 10 (4) (1993), pp. ‘But these were completely unknown little people that we had taken in and we clearly had our share of trial and error (…) I remember things that I hadn’t expected like for example one was a bed-wetter and that kind of thing’ or ‘Maybe not even social services knew how bad things were with her. ‘I think they could have said this like that, ok now Alfred is going to move home and then decide that he can come back and visit during a school break or something but there was nothing just *demonstrating a scissors cutting* just gone and so I think it’s pretty bad that there isn’t any plan. Keywords: foster care; placement breakdown; placement instability. In our study, placements broke down for a variety of reasons. Doctor of Clinical Psychology . Dozier, 2005 . Simply select your manager software from the list below and click on download. One risk is that placing a child in care is, by itself, seen as the solution to an individual child’s problems. When a placement ends abruptly, do not terminate contact with foster parents equally abruptly. All respondents had biological children. ‘The purpose has to be to save, to save many’ or ‘We are a shield; if we aren’t their shield who else is going to be?’ Respondents also described wanting to shape independent, well-functioning citizens. Knowledge regarding breakdown in Flanders remains scant. To address this knowledge gap, we designed this study to investigate how Swedish foster parents described and understood placement breakdown and the care context in which it occurred. ‘That was the problem all these years that she wouldn’t leave them in peace. ‘She did go to CYP a few times but CYP said that she was doing too poorly and was too unstable to continue there and with that my contact with CYP ended too. Child welfare is, thus, a combination of controlling and family supportive in nature (Wiklund, 2006) and is legislated through the Social Services Act (SoL). This could be a grief too profound to live through one more time. Three of the families describe how the experience of placement was so difficult that they were drained of energy. Our focus is thus on the meaning that our respondents give to events preceding and surrounding placement breakdown rather than on risk factors associated with this phenomenon. I think we had a stable family to offer, a good environment so (…) our own two girls had grown so they could take care of themselves and it felt like I wanted to give more’. In those cases where breakdown was initiated by social services, the decision to move/return a child was given suddenly – a quick telephone call and the placement ended. 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