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Foster Care Placement Breakdown

At a glance


The study aims to generate and transfer knowledge to stabilise foster care placements for Swiss children and young people. More specific objectives are to:

  • identify factors associated with unexpected termination (breakdown) of long term foster -care placements
  • understand the process leading to breakdown by a multi-perspective- reconstruction in an analytic model of interdependencies
  • draw conclusions from international comparisons for professional impact
  • develop transferable knowledge in cooperation with Swiss stakeholders in the area of foster care

Placements Breakdown is not seen as an “antithesis of stability” (Backe-Hansen, 2010) or a static moment where everything falls apart. Breakdown is understood as a process on several levels: the situation of the child before the placement, the placing situation, the appearance of the crisis as well as the actual breakdown event and the consequences for all actors involved. The main influences on foster care stability and/or breakdown will be analysed by showing how they can reinforce, relativise and cancel each other out. In a multi-perspective reconstruction of breakdown processes gathered via interdependence models, different perspectives will be included (professionals, foster carer, birth parents, foster child).
Germany and England are selected to maximise international learning from countries with similar and high rates of placement breakdown but differences regarding total population, organisation and development of the child care system and current state of research in this field. The project collaborates with a national foster care NGO (Pflegekinder-Aktion Schweiz), a national child care NGO (Integras) and selected Swiss administrative bodies (Zurich, Bern and others). An international scientific board of researchers will support the study.