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Foster and adoptive mothers’ assessment of permanent family placements
  1. Joy S Holloway
  1. Newcastle City Health NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne
  1. Dr Joy S Holloway, Newcastle City Health NHS Trust, Division of Community Health, East Paediatric Team, Shieldfield Health Centre, 4 Clarence Walk, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 3AN.


OBJECTIVES To obtain the new carers’ evaluation of the success of permanent placement of children within their families and any special needs in the children, and to determine the adequacy of support after placement.

DESIGN A postal questionnaire was sent to the foster or adoptive mothers of a five year cohort of 234 children placed for permanence, three to eight years previously, by one local authority.

SETTING Newcastle upon Tyne Social Services Adoption and Fostering Unit.

SUBJECTS All 234 permanent family placements recommended by the family placement panel from 1 January 1986 to 31 December 1990.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE The adoptive or foster mothers’ evaluation of the placement.

RESULTS There was a 54% response rate, but the respondents did not differ significantly from the non-respondents in the variables tested. Only 33% of the children were placed when less than 2 years old with no special needs. Twenty per cent of the school age children had statements of special educational needs at placement. Ninety seven per cent of infant placements were rated ‘very successful’ for the child by the new mothers, as were 90% of 1–6 year olds, but only 31% of children who were placed when older than 6 years were rated in this way. A third of the adoptive and foster mothers had experienced major difficulties in the placement and six carers said that more medical/psychiatric input would have prevented breakdown.

CONCLUSIONS There is a role for health care professionals to provide ongoing support, especially for older children with special needs.

  • adoption
  • fostering
  • post-placement support.
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