Assessing Satisfaction of Children in out-of-Home Care: Development of Korean out-of-Home Care Satisfaction Scale

Sang Jung Lee, Eun Mi An & Ick-Joong Chung - Child Indicators Research


In order to offer client-centered services, it is important to measure children’s service satisfaction and reflect their needs to out-of-home care practices and policies. However, a reliable measure that assesses children’s satisfaction about out-of-home care is not found in Korea. This study aimed to develop a Korean out-of-home care satisfaction scale. The study sample consisted of 484 children from institutional care, group homes, and foster homes in Korea. Half of the sample was chosen randomly for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) based on 16 items from the Korean Foster Care Improvements Project. The other half of the sample was used for confirmatory factor analyses (CFA). EFA yielded two-factor structures that consist of eight items for each factor. Confirmatory factor analyses supported the two-factor structures with reasonable fit, and all items loaded significantly on the factors. The Korean out-of-home care satisfaction scale could be used as a tool to assess children’s satisfaction with out-of-home care services, which could allow social workers to reflect children’s needs immediately into practice and help policymakers make more informed decisions about out-of-home care services and programs.

In Korea, out-of-home care services are provided for children who are separated from their families of origin due to poverty, parents’ divorce, domestic violence, runaway, and other reasons. They are placed and served mostly in one of the three out-of-home care services: institutional care, group homes, and foster care. In 2018, approximately 28,000 children were served in the three out-of-home care services including 11,665 children in institutional care, 2811 children in group homes, and 11,983 children in 9575 foster homes (Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare

.">2018). For those children who had already been traumatized by negative experiences from their original families, the social stigma and isolation generated from group care prevent adaptation to out-of-home care and even cause negative developmental outcomes (Kang et al. 2009).

To help children adapt well to out-of-home care and ultimately promote their positive and healthy development, it is necessary to provide services that children are satisfied with. However, studies have reported that children are not satisfied with these services in Korea, presenting low satisfaction with living in groups, clothes, curfew, allowance (Noh and Jang 1998) and counseling programs (Kim

">2002). Children have also complained about insufficient private rooms, lack of extracurricular activities, and lack of tutoring support (Kim 1995). This is partly because children’s voices have not been reflected during the service-providing process. From the perspectives of service providers, impacts of programs served in out-of-home care have been investigated (Kim

">2005; Park and Kim 2010; Park and Lee 2016), although child welfare workers were mostly targeted as respondents for studies that attempted to support out-of-home care service improvement (Ha and Lim 2006; Kim and Seo 2002; Lee 1999; Yang 2003). Little investigation on out-of-home care service satisfaction from children who are the clients and consumers of out-of-home care has been done in Korea. Lack of instruments to measure children’s satisfaction at out-of-home care practices may have contributed to this lack.

Assessing children’s satisfaction with out-of-home care services can not only help practitioners provide practical improvements in services by detecting children’s feeling and attitudes, but it can also help policymakers reflect children’s needs during the policy-making process (Johnson et al. 1995). In addition, the self-esteem of children may be improved by making children aware of and in control of their lives (Gilligan 2000). Ultimately, assessing children’s satisfaction with out-of-home care services and responding immediately may lead to the promotion of out-of-home care services (Delfabbro et al. 2002). Although it is important to assess satisfaction with out-of-home care service from children’s viewpoint, this has been overlooked in Korea, and there does not currently exist a reliable and valid measurement scale. Therefore, this study aims to develop a Korean out-of-home care satisfaction scale based on questions from the Foster Care Improvements Project (Nho et al. 2007).