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Before it's too late: Enhancing the early detection and prevention of long-term placement disruption

  • Paul Delfabbro (a1) and Jim Barber (a2)

Abstract

In this paper, we examine some of the principal findings of a recent 3-year longitudinal study into foster care in South Australia and their implications for addressing the needs of children who experience high rates of placement disruption while in care. A critical finding of this study was that many of the most serious problems in foster care, such as repeated placement disruption, can be anticipated and predicted with considerable accuracy. Children who experience a disproportionately higher rate of placement disruption appear to be readily identifiable at intake. In addition, there appears to be an approximate threshold or point beyond which children subject to placement disruption begin to experience significant deterioration in their psychosocial functioning. This predictability of outcomes suggests the possibility of the early detection of children most at risk in foster care, and a means of identifying children failing to adapt to care. We believe that the extension of this form of analysis to other Australian states, for example, through the development of nationally agreed-upon definitions of ‘at risk’ and ‘harm due to disruption’ in foster care, may significantly enhance current attempts to evaluate and target treatment programs designed for children with challenging behaviours.

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Before it's too late: Enhancing the early detection and prevention of long-term placement disruption

  • Paul Delfabbro (a1) and Jim Barber (a2)

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