Testing the Limits of Foster Care

By Moira Walker, Malcolm Hill and John Triseliotis.
Baaf Adoption and Fostering
ISBN 1 903699 18 5

This well-written book evaluates children’s charity NCH’s
community alternative placement project in Scotland, which offers
foster care as an alternative to secure accommodation. It extends
developments whereby difficult teenagers live with families to give
them a positive experience of family life and wider social support.
Carers are accorded professional status and expected stays are
about six months.

Twenty participants were followed up for two years and compared
with 20 young people admitted to closed units. The development of
the project was also charted. Outcomes varied because numbers were
small and progress was better in some areas than others.

Some placements continued satisfactorily but the destinations of
leavers were often unplanned. Most young people stayed out of
residential care but were sometimes in risky situations. Composite
outcome assessments showed similar results for the community
alternative placement schemes and control groups.

Family placements are not a complete answer for difficult
adolescents but can be successful, especially if they complement
other services, including secure and residential accommodation.

Roger Bullock is chairperson, Centre for Social Policy,
Warren House Group, at Dartington.

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