I wouldn't normally just copy and paste a research briefing, but in this case I think it is worth it. TACT in the UK has followed a group of foster care children (albeit a small, qualitative sample) and found some different experiences from those that are so often reported (the negative outcomes). Well, as TACT has found out, it need not always be so:
"TACT and London South Bank University publish 'Aspirations Three Years On'
10 May 2011
Today TACT publishes research setting out the views of children in foster care and their carers. The research is a follow up to the 2007 study ‘Aspirations: the views of foster children and their carers’ making it the first longitudinal study into the opinions and experiences of a group of foster children and those who look after them. Both reports were written by Professor Bob Broad of London South Bank University’s Institute for Social Science Research.
In that initial 2007 study, responses were collated from 56 young people and their foster carers. This follow-up study records the experiences of all 30 of those 56 young people who are still in the same foster placement as in 2007. The study also records the views of their 24 foster carers.
Key findings in the report include:
The importance of foster carers to a young person in care. Ninety six percent of young people identified their relationship with their current foster carer as being ‘very important’. By comparison, 65 percent said the relationship with their birth mother was very important and 43 percent said the same about their birth father.
That for children in stable placements, their experience of school can be extremely positive. They were asked 14 questions concerning school with the opportunity to respond ‘Excellent’, ‘Good’, ‘Average’, ‘Below Average’ and ‘Need more help’ to each question. Overall, 81 percent responded with replies of either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ being given.
Foster carers’ assessment of the improvement in the health and wellbeing of the young people in their care shows that, while they identify ongoing improvement throughout the placement, the rate of improvement slows down. The improvements identified between arriving in placement and the 2007 survey were more significant than between the 2007 survey and this 2010 study. The most significant gains occur in the first nine months to a year of a placement.
Young people in placement had developed a wide range of interests and activities. The young people were given a list of twenty one potential activities carried out individually, with the foster family and outside with friends. The responses showed that nearly all the activities were carried out by at least some of the children.
TACT CEO Kevin Williams said “This longitudinal study allows us to see how vital a stable foster placement is for a young person’s achievement and life chances. It is striking that 96 percent of young people describe their relationship with their current carer as ‘very important’. The report should send a loud message to everyone involved in fostering about the long term societal and economic benefits of ensuring that decisions are only made in the child’s best interests.”
Professor Bob Broad of London South Bank University, the report’s author, said; “Our research demonstrates the value of a longitudinal study of foster care based on the views of young people and their carers. “The evidence shows how young people’s positive and improving health and wellbeing outcomes are associated with them being contented living with their foster family, and feeling safe, cared for and supported, It also demonstrates the value of dedicated foster carers who feel their support needs are being met. “
The entire report can be found at http://www.tactcare.org.uk/data/files/Research_n_Policy/TACT161_Aspirations6.pdf