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May 2009Vol. 10, No. 4Preventing Placement Disruption in Foster Care

A recent study out of the University of Minnesota used an extensive literature review to identify evidence-based practices for preventing placement disruptions in foster care. Two broad topic areas came to light: (1) identifying risk and protective factors for placement stability and (2) implementing practices to prevent disruptions. In Section I of the report, the authors discuss key findings in these areas, including the following:

  • Placement disruptions create a cycle of instability.
  • The first 6 months of a placement are crucial, and additional interventions should be available during this time.
  • Kinship care and treatment foster care have been linked to greater stability.
  • Promising retention practices for foster parents include mentoring, peer support, shared decision-making, and promotion of foster parent rights.
  • Agencies should hire caseworkers with social work education and offer increased support in the worker's first couple of years.

The study's authors used criteria from the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare to evaluate every program in their literature review. In Section II of their report, they list their results in terms of factors related to placement disruption. The following list of these factors also includes an effective, promising, or emerging practice noted by the authors:

  • Foster parent retention and recruitment (promising practice: Casey Foster Applicant Inventory)
  • Foster parent training (promising practice: Triple P Parenting Curriculum)
  • Caseworker retention and training (emerging practice: Caseworker Training at Hunter College School of Social Work)
  • Foster family services and models (effective practices: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care Model, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, and Wraparound Services)

The study's complete findings include a comprehensive review of the literature and an annotated bibliography of pertinent research.

PATH/Wisconsin-Bremer Project: Preventing Placement Disruptions in Foster Care, by Annette Semanchin Jones and Susan J. Wells, is available on the website of the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota: (816 KB)