Publication Details

Randle, M. (2013). Through the eyes of ex-foster children: placement success and the characteristics of good foster carers. Practice: social work in action, 25 (1), 3-19.


Most research focusing on foster placement success or the characteristics of good foster carers is based on the opinions of people currently involved in the foster care system, such as foster carers, social workers or children in care. The few studies which include former foster children usually collect factual (usually quantitative) data to evaluate their pathways or achievements since leaving care, such as educational attainment or employment. This study differs because it examines the perceptions and opinions of adults who were in foster care as children, in relation to the important issues of what constitutes successful foster placement and the characteristics of the foster carers who are most likely to be able to make possible such a placement. For the most part, a successful placement is described by participants in terms of how they feel when they are there - happy, wanted, loved, listened to and safe. As well as the more commonly known characteristics of good foster carers, ex-foster children nominate important attributes as fun-loving, good-listeners and honest. This new perspective adds an important dimension to what we know about foster placement success and should be taken into consideration when making decisions about the delivery of foster care programmes.

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