Journal Article

The Search For Stability and Permanence: Modelling the Pathways of Long-stay Looked After Children

Gillian Schofield, June Thoburn, Darren Howell and Jonathan Dickens

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 4, pages 619-642
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online August 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch275
The Search For Stability and Permanence: Modelling the Pathways of Long-stay Looked After Children

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This paper presents findings from a study of children looked after by 24 local authorities. It combines analysis of statistical data with analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from a questionnaire survey of a targeted sub-sample of children who had been looked after for 4 years or more. The paper highlights a complex picture of continuity and discontinuity in attempts to achieve stability and permanence in a range of birth family, foster care, adoption, residential and leaving care placements for long-stay children. Some long-stay children are moving smoothly and in a planned way towards a family for life, while some experience long periods in stable but temporary placements or have a number of moves prior to finding stability and a sense of belonging. A further group of children experience stability or moves while looked after, without having a family to belong to when they move into adult life. The paper discusses the difficulty with the Government’s current long-stay performance measure in capturing the difference between stability in placement and planned permanence for children and families.

Keywords: looked after children; stability; permanence; performance

Journal Article.  9566 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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