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Title: The experience of growing up in foster care : pathways from childhood to adulthood
Author: Schofield, Gillian
ISNI:       0000 0001 2148 3185
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2002
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This study is an investigation of long-term foster care, which focuses on the reflections of 40 adults, aged 18-30, who grew up in foster families. The theoretical approach taken is developmental and the study draws on theories of attachment and resilience. The research method was qualitative. In-depth interviews were conducted, transcribed and analysed in order to generate a picture of the pathways taken through childhood and into adult life. The primary focus of the interviews was on family relationships and the development of the self, but relationships with peers, school experiences and practice relevant issues, such as what it meant to be `in care', the experience of stigma and the role of social workers, were also discussed. The analysis used the dimensions of placement continuity, the quality of family relationships and the nature of family membership to identify seven different pathways. The data suggests that although the development of secure emotional relationships is an important part of successful placement experiences, the development of a sense of family membership is also highly significant, particularly in adult life. In a psychosocial model of long-term foster care, a `secure base' can therefore be understood in attachment terms as an emotional resource, but can also be understood in a more social context, as providing a family identity and a place in society. The study concludes that foster families where there are no biological or legal ties can still be a form of permanent family placement. This has important implications for social work practice, both in the way in which placements are planned and in the importance of promoting continuity into adult life of relationships which officially end when a child leaves care. It requires a change in attitudes, so that long-term foster families are no longer treated as placements for childhood only, but are recognised as offering a home and a family for life
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Foster families Sociology Human services