Social worker perspectives on the placement instability of looked after children

R. Norgate, A. Warhurst, Carol Hayden, C. Osborne, M. Traill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Looked after children (LAC) often experience multiple placements, although different rates of placement instability apply across different local authorities (LAs). The aim of this research was to examine social workers’ views on factors influencing placement instability. The research focused on a local authority with higher than average rates of placement changes. Eight groups of social workers across the area were identified and members from each team (N=71) completed a questionnaire and participated in group interviews. The main themes emerging from staff responses were a difficulty accessing mental health services, lack of placement options and limited foster placements, and over-hasty placement decisions due to strict time restrictions on emergency placements. Additionally, children’s challenging behaviours and foster carers’ unwillingness to, or inexperience in, managing such behaviour was identified as a contributory factor. The need to offer more support to foster carers, with a view to improving recruitment and retention, was identified as a key aspect in reducing the need for placement moves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-18
Number of pages15
JournalAdoption & Fostering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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