Assessment of foster carers: their willingness to raise children with special needs

Johan Strijker, Erik J. Knorth

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A substantial part of children placed out of home in family foster care suffers severe emotional and behavioural problems. These problems can enlarge the risk of a placement breakdown: the stay of a child in a foster family comes prematurely to an end because, for instance, the foster carers are not able anymore to handle the challenging behaviour of the child. As a result the child will be replaced to another care setting. To diminish the risk of such breakdowns it is crucial to assess among prospective foster carers if they feel competent and are willing to raise children with special needs or conduct problems. As part of a research programme on the applicability of the Casey Home Assessment Protocol (CHAP) in the Netherlands prospective foster carers (N=37) were interviewed on their willingness to include children with special needs in their families. In nearly 40% of the cases the participants were ‘under no circumstances’ willing to admit children who had committed sexual offences or were sexually active, who used drugs or who showed cruelty to animals. Also children with an incurable illness and intellectual or physical disabilities were quite often not welcome. Offering professional help and support to foster carers increased their willingness to foster these children. Implications of the outcomes are discussed, especially regarding their significance for the matching process in family foster care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)7-21
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Child and Family Welfare
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2018

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