Part of the Family: Pathways Through Foster Care

By Gillian Schofield.
Baaf Adoption and Fostering
ISBN 1 903699 28 2   

Fifteen years ago, some experts predicted that looked-after
children would either return home quickly or gain permanence
through adoption. Yet, long-term foster care remains a common
experience for separated children and Gillian Schofield wants this
acknowledged with placements used constructively.

Her book is based on 40 interviews with adults aged 18-30 who
were fostered long-term. This information complements her work at
the University of East Anglia, particularly follow-up studies of
looked-after children, so providing opportunities to compare
results from different types of research.

The strength of the study is the attempt to respect the detail
of individual experiences while establishing patterns that indicate
cause and effect. The model is that of “pathways”, of which seven
were identified. These link children’s backgrounds, experiences and
outcomes so that vulnerable groups and critical points in the care
process can be highlighted.

The outcomes are discussed dispassionately but the author
remains clear about the implications for good practice and the
components of a sound psycho-social model of long-term foster

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

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