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9. Supporting placement stability for children in care

  • High levels of placement instability can undermine a child’s continuity of care, relationships, education and health provision. It is important to think broadly about ‘stability’ for looked after children in terms of continuity of relationships, and formal and informal support networks, rather than just continuity of the placement itself.
  • A range of factors, including characteristics and circumstances of the child and their carers, can affect placement stability. However, well supported carers and placements, and tailored and holistic packages of support for children which consider a child’s needs for emotional support, identity, and educational support increase the likelihood of placement stability.
  • Increasing the range and quality of placements available when a child first becomes looked after can help reduce unnecessary moves for a child within the care system.
  • A focus on placement stability should not overshadow consideration of child well¬being; children should not be maintained in placements where they are obviously unhappy and which are clearly not meeting their needs.
    Holland et al, 2005; SWIA, 2006; Sinclair et al, 2007
  • Careful thought also needs to be given to supporting the stable transition of young people from residential and foster care. A range of programmes for preparing care leavers in Scotland do recognise the link between support prior to leaving care and successful transition from care. However it is important that such support recognises the relationships young people have already established in their care placements, and that young people have the opportunity to return to previously established support networks after they move on, as and when they need them.
    Dixon and Stein, 2002