Flemish foster children on their foster care placement: a qualitative study

Johan Vanderfaeillie, Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 

Ann Clé, Researcher, Vijre Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 

Frank Van Holen, Researcher, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium      

In Flanders, a family foster care placement is the option of choice for children in need of out-of-home care. For both birth parents and children, placing a child in out-of-home care is a far reaching decision. However, little is known about how children themselves live through the foster care placement. This study aimed to explore the foster children’s own accounts of being fostered. With a proportional stratified sampling procedure 27 foster children between 12 and 18 years were a-select recruited. Qualitative data were collected by the use of a semi-structured interview. Foster children were questioned on the topics: their trajectory in care, feelings and coping strategies, family, relation with and treatment by others, school, participation, support, finances and future. Foster children were mostly very satisfied with the foster care placement and the foster family. The majority hoped the foster family is a final destination where the can stay until they come of age and even longer. Beside this, foster children reported some challenges: adjustment to the foster family at start of the placement, difficulties in contact with the birth parents and concerns for the (kin-)ship foster parents. Notwithstanding the satisfaction of the foster children with foster care, foster children brought some points for improvement to the attention of researchers, practitioners and government.

Key-words: foster care, qualitative research, children’s voices

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