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Social workers' perspectives on the placement instability of looked after children

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Abstract:

Looked after children (LAC) often experience multiple placements although different rates of placement instab ility apply across different local authorities. The aim of this research by Roger Norgate, Amy Warhurst, Carol Hayden, Cara Osborne and Maria Traill was to exam ine social workers' views on factors influencing placement instability. The research focused on a local authority with higher than average rates of placement changes. Eight groups of social workers across the area were identified and members from each team (N = 71) completed a questionnaire and participated in group interviews. The main themes emerging from staff responses were a diffi culty accessing mental health services, lack of placement options and limited foster placements, and over-hasty placement decisions due to strict time restrictions on emergency placements. Additionally, children's challeng ing behaviours and foster carers' unwillingness to manage, or inexperience in managing, such behaviour was identified as a contributory factor. The need to offer more support to foster carers, with a view to improving recruitment and retention, was identified as a key aspect in reducing the need for placement moves.

Keywords: PLACEMENT INSTABILITY; PLACEMENT OPTIONS; SOCIAL WORKERS' VIEWS; SUPPORT FOR FOSTER CARERS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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