Foster care assessment: A study of the placement decision process in Flanders

Johan Vanderfaeillie, Huub Pijnenburg, Harm Damen, Frank Van Holen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Family foster care placement decision-making has a weak scientific underpinning. Mostly a ‘variable-oriented approach’ is taken, which requires a lot of information that is not always available. The identification of clusters of foster children with similar characteristics may be a more viable decision strategy. In this study we investigated if foster children could indeed be clustered, which problems were identified at the time of placement, and the influence of placement history. It proved possible to group foster children into two clusters: (1) young children with familial problems and few behavioral problems, and (2) older children with prominent child problems and behavioral problems. For foster children with and without placement history, problems associated with placement proved identical. Considering that a foster care placement did not result in fundamental change in the problems present at time of placement, the importance is stressed of approaching foster care assessment as part of a decision making process which looks back as well as forward. Placement decisions should be based on an appraisal of the appropriateness of foster placement as a solution for the child. In conjunction with this appraisal a decision is required on how parents can be supported toward reunification. Or – if this is not an option – whether long term foster care is the best option for the child and if so, what conditions need to be met.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse & Neglect
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • child welfare
  • foster care
  • placement decision

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