Short-term family foster care in Flanders: An exploratory study into the factors associated with family reunification decisions

Frank Van Holen, Laurence Belenger, Elke Carlier, Babette Potoms, Johan Vanderfaeillie - Children and Youth Services Review


Since the entry into force of the foster care decree in Flanders (01/01/2014), a distinction is made between short-term and long-term family foster care. In short-term foster care, a foster child is placed in a foster family for at most one year with the aim of reunification, or, if this is not possible, clarifying the child's future (long-term family foster care or residential care). The present study is the first to examine reunification rates and characteristics associated with reunification decisions in Flemish short-term foster care. Case files of 125 short-term foster care placements that started after 01/01/2014 and ended before 31/12/2015 of all Flemish foster care agencies were analyzed. Short-term foster care resulted in 27% of the cases in a reunification. Bivariate analyses showed that seventeen variables were significantly associated with a reunification. Inclusion of these variables in a logistic regression model resulted in a significant model that explained 52% of the variance, with the only predictive variable being the pedagogical skills of the mother at the end of the placement. This is promising. It implies that in developing a methodology to promote reunification, improving the pedagogical skills of mothers must be given a prominent place.