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04-04-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2016 Open Access

Journal of Child and Family Studies 8/2016

Characteristics of Children in Foster Care, Family-Style Group Care, and Residential Care: A Scoping Review

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 8/2016
Harmke Leloux-Opmeer, Chris Kuiper, Hanna Swaab, Evert Scholte


When risky child and family circumstances cannot be resolved at home, (temporary) 24-h out-of-home placement of the child may be an alternative strategy. To identify specific placement risks and needs, care professionals must have information about the child and his or her family, care history, and social-cultural characteristics at admission to out-of-home care. However, to date information on case characteristics and particular their similarities and differences across the three main types of out-of-home settings (namely foster care, family-style group care, and residential care) is largely lacking. This review compiles and compares characteristics of school-aged children of average intelligence and their families at the time of each child’s admission to one of the three care modalities. A scoping review technique that provides a broad search strategy and ensures sufficient coverage of the available literature is used. Based on the 36 studies included, there is consensus that the majority of normally intelligent children in care demonstrate severe developmental and behavioral problems. However, the severeness as well as the kinds of defining characteristics present differ among the children in foster care, family-style group care, and residential care. The review also identifies several existing knowledge gaps regarding relevant risk factors. Future research is recommended to fill these gaps and determine the developmental pathway in relation to children’s risks and needs at admission. This will contribute to the development of an evidence-based risks and needs assessment tool that will enable care professionals to make informed referrals to a specific type of out-of-home care when such a placement is required.

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