Exploring the multi-dimensionality of permanence and stability: Emotions, experiences and temporality in young people’s discourses about long-term foster care in Ireland

Lisa Moran, Caroline McGregor, Carmel Devaney - Qualitative Social Work


This paper focuses on qualitative findings on how young people in long-term foster care in Ireland interpret permanence and stability. We focus principally on subjective and relational permanence, emphasising the significance of these concepts for social work, while extending some conceptual approaches to permanence. Importantly, findings from this study highlight conceptual gaps in how permanence and stability are conceptualised in research and we outline an approach which more fully embraces the multi-dimensionality of young people’s life experiences and emotions. Recent studies underline that permanence encompasses several elements (e.g. ecological, legal). However, this paper extends current research in illustrating how Irish young people in foster care experience permanence and stability every day, and how these experiences embrace discursive, emotional and temporal dimensions.