Trajectoires de développement des enfants placés et adoptés via les services de protection de la jeunesse/ Pathways and outcomes for fostered and adopted children
Research in a number of countries has found that rates of psychosocial problems are higher for children placed in out of home care (‘in care’) compared to those for children in the general population. Such comparisons have often led policy-makers and professionals to conclude that placement in care is generally damaging for children. However, unlike children in the general population, the majority of children who come into care in England have experienced abuse and neglect and/or come from high risk family backgrounds often marked by parental substance misuse, mental health problems, domestic violence and other risks. Children placed in foster care care therefore differ in important ways from children in the wider population, so it is important to consider how far outcomes for these children are shaped by their pre-care experiences as well as by the experience of foster care. Equally, we cannot assume that the histories of children in foster care are necessarily comparable to those of adopted children, as their experience of pre-care adversity and their pathways into care may differ and these differences may contribute to differences in outcome between these two groups.
This presentation will draw on three studies of children involved with the child welfare system. The Outcomes of Care study compared outcomes for fostered children to those for maltreated children never placed in care and the Belonging and Permanence and Permanently Progressing? studies both compared pathways and outcomes for fostered and adopted children. The presentation will first discuss the problem of selection bias in research on outcomes for fostered and adopted children and then explore the relationship between children’s pre-care histories and the risk that they will experience emotional and behavioural difficulties.