López López Monica, Researcher, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Kirti Zeijlmans, Researcher, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Hans Grietens, Researcher, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Erik Knorth, Researcher, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Despite the potential influence of matching decisions on the course of a placement, matching remains an understudied topic in child welfare research. The matching is a complex decision-making process in which a child welfare professional tries to predict which placement will result in the best outcome. A good fit between the foster child and the placement setting has the potential to mitigate the impact of an out-of-home placement. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 matching professionals in the Netherlands. Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes and focused on the steps that they used in their matching process, the factors that they considered and also the differences that they saw between themselves and colleagues. Examples of recent matches were asked to clarify and illustrate their answers. After the interviews were transcribed, the researchers used thematic analysis to analyse the results. The results show that matching decisions are not only influenced by case factors, but also by organizational, personal and external factors. Especially the lack of resources has a great influence on the matching process and presents the practitioners with a constant struggle. Professionals saw matching as an important step in foster care and mentioned matching as the process of choosing a substitute family; however, in practice there often wasn’t much of a choice and the steps that they took were also related to providing a good start of a placement.
Keywords : successful foster placement, matching, decision-making, disruption, outcomes