Characteristics of successful foster families according to Flemish foster care workers.

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Concept mapping was used to identify characteristics of successful foster families in Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium). A sample of 97 (out of 505) foster care workers from all foster care agencies were asked to answer in writing the question: “What characteristics does a successful foster family have?” Sixty unique characteristics were identified by three researchers. In a second phase, 50 foster care workers individually grouped together the statements that according to them covered the same topic. Furthermore, they were asked to indicate the degree of importance of each response on a seven-point scale. Multidimensional scaling and hierarchic cluster analyses identified eight clusters of successful foster family characteristics: willingness to cooperate with all stakeholders (foster care worker and birth parents), emotional-affective characteristics, characteristics that are conditions for stability, a child-oriented motivation supported by the whole family, adaptability, social-cognitive characteristics, social and material circumstances that are conditions for foster care, and good parenthood. Although sometimes differently grouped or named, the characteristics mentioned by foster care workers were almost entirely in line with findings from other research. Identification of these characteristics can contribute to the development of a foster family profile. Such a profile increases the chance of screening of quality foster families, enables training of families that don't meet certain conditions, and contributes to standardized decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104519
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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