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Multiple placement of foster children : a preliminary study of causes and effects, based on a sample of fifty foster children in Vancouver. Ellis, Vivian Mauretta

Abstract

This study is concerned with the problem of multiple placement s of foster children, i. e., children who are placed in more than one foster home while they are in the care of a protective agency. Children become "wards" of such societies if there is no possibility of their leading normal, happy, and emotionally secure lives within their own homes. The agencies provide foster home care as a substitute home to give them the care they were not able to obtain in their own homes. But frequent replacement prevents many foster children from gaining security and healthy development due to lack of attachment to a family. The study shows that thirty-nine out of the fifty children in the sample were placed in more than one foster home during their period of care by a children's aid society. The average number of foster homes for the total group was 3.52 homes per child, which means that a child remained in each foster home for a period of 2.08 years, on the average. The study was based on the records of foster children from both of Vancouver's children's aid societies, the sample being selected on a one-in-four basis from all children falling within certain definitions: (l) children who had been in the care of one of the agencies at least two years; (2) children of the white race; (3) children now in the "latency" stage of development; i. e. between the ages of seven and twelve years. The material utilized includes the files kept by the agencies, regarding each individual child, his family and the foster homes. The sample was grouped into four divisions according to the number of placements the children have had. Group A with a single foster home placement only, representing the ideal in child placement; Group B with two foster home placements; Group C a clear multiple placement problem, with three or four foster home placements; and Group D the usually serious situation where a child has lived in five or more foster homes. The cases were then studied in terms of the foster homes in which the children were placed; the intelligence levels of the children; and their adjustment to the foster home program. The adjustment of the child is believed to be the crucial factor in deciding whether foster home placement has succeeded or failed. The third part of the study examines what can be done to improve the methods of placing children in foster homes in order to lessen the problem of multiple placements. There is evidence that the problem of multiple placement of foster children could be reduced by more careful preliminary observation of the child and his needs, closer assessment of foster home potentialities, better matching of the child and the foster home, professional casework service while the child is in the home, and treatment for disturbed children in homes which are especially equipped for this service. The study suggests that many children without family ties could be placed for adoption, thus attaching them to one family instead of facing the possibility of repeated replacements.

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