Journal Article

Disabled Children’s Experience of Permanency in the Looked After System

Claire Baker

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 7, pages 1173-1188
Published in print October 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online September 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Disabled Children’s Experience of Permanency in the Looked After System

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Research with seven local authorities in England provided data on the ‘care careers’ of 596 foster-children over three years (Sinclair et al., 2005). One part of this study looked at the experiences of disabled foster-children compared to non-disabled foster-children. The research aimed to identify if there were any particular difficulties in pursuing permanency for disabled looked after children. This article introduces a concept developed by the author from this work: the idea that disabled children may be at risk of experiencing a ‘reverse ladder of permanency’; being less likely than their peers to receive permanent placements such as adoption and return home. The results of the study partially supported this hypothesis, reinforcing existing findings and highlighting some new ones. Foster-children with learning but not other impairments were less likely to be adopted. All disabled children were less likely to return home and therefore remained in foster-care for longer. Disabled children who were adopted, or who returned home, did so after a greater delay compared to non-disabled children. By contrast, children who were ‘clearly disabled’ achieved a greater degree of permanence within the care system. The article concludes by considering the implications of such findings for policy and practice.

Keywords: disabled children; permanence; long-term foster-care; adoption; reunification; independent living

Journal Article.  6550 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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