Placement breakdown in Flemish family foster care for unaccompanied refugee minors. Experiences of non-kinship foster parents.

Frank Van Holen, Lobke Henri Verberckmoes, Lenny Trogh, Delphine West, Johan Vanderfaeillie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with twelve foster parents who took care of unaccompanied refugee minors (URM; mainly Afghan boys aged 15 to 16 years old) examines two research questions: “How do non-kinship foster parents of Caucasian ethnicity experience placement breakdown of unaccompanied children?”, and “What could have prevented placement breakdown?” Foster parents perceived breakdown as a failure and reported a major emotional impact on themselves, their children and on their family life. Although most of them thought breakdown could not have been avoided, three factors were reported: not assigning a study grant if the youngster is going to live independently, more psychological support for the URM, and connections to potential individuals or support systems who share the youths’ culture and traditions and who support the placement. All foster parents described multiple and various difficulties related to the care system, the URM and the social context that troubled the foster placement. Based on the experiences of foster parents several implications for practice and policy were formulated such as a better preparation, training and matching of the foster family and the URM, care planning that includes the needs of foster carers, their biological children and the URM for specialized support and adapted care; facilitating fellow contacts for foster parents and URM; organizing specialized training for foster care workers, and developing a post-intervention program for foster families who experienced breakdown.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107206
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


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