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How foster children turn out : a follow-up study of former foster children over twenty-one, and the effects of foster home care Langdale, Arthur Leslie

Abstract

This is one of the first complete follow-up studies made in Vancouver of the progress of a sample group of foster children, all of whom at the date of the survey had reached the age of twenty-one. The development of each of the cases is traced chronologically from the time the child first entered a foster home, or was known to the Children’s Aid Society. Although the research material is mainly confined to the Children's Aid Society case records the principles of foster home placement which are illuminated may be regarded as applicable to the general field of child welfare. Current enquiries, including some interviews, are incorporated in the study to supplement the material of the case records. The development history for each person (men and women) is analyzed according to family background, health, education, employment, behaviour and personality factors. The Wetzel grid is employed to make more comparable the varied health data. The qualitative material is also converted to more quantitative measurement by ratings assigned to each of the above-mentioned five-fold classifications. The totalled numerical ratings give a composite (1951) evaluation which is compared with a preliminary rating, the result of a previous survey of social adjustment (or maladjustment) in 1948. The results of the study indicate, broadly, that former foster children become part of the lower-middle class in the population strata. The extent of their emotional maturity Influences considerably the level of formal education which they attain, and it, in turn, determines the type of employment they obtain. The outcome of the placement efforts Includes both successes and failures, but the majority of former foster children appear to make a successful adjustment in society. It is evident, however, that the ability of foster children to become successful in life depends upon how well they take root in a foster home and assimilate the principles of satisfactory living. The failures are clearly traceable to the influences of poor living standards at an early age. The failures also reveal the deficiencies of child welfare practice, and the reasons why better results are not being attained for the time and money expended. Pressure of work and lack of adequate resources are among the reasons for the failure to obtain a better yield of successful citizens from children who need foster homes in early life.

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