Recognition of education and schooling in case files for children and young people placed in out-of-home care

Abstract

The aim of the article is to describe and discuss how issues related to schooling and educational achievement are recognized and addressed in social services case files for children and young people placed in out-of-home care (OHC) in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Four cohorts were included in the study: children born 1967, 1977, 1987 and 1992. 40 case files were selected from each cohort (38 from the 1977 cohort), in total 158 cases. The analyses were made through a counting of rows related to schooling and education in the documents. Results were then processed in the statistical program SPSS. The results show that the level of recognition of schooling/education was low, and that it was more frequent when the child/young person had behaviour problems and/or was placed in residential care. Little attention was paid to changes of schools. On a positive note, there was an increased attention to education and schooling for the two latter cohorts (1987, 1992), and the involvement of children, young people and parents was also more visible. To conclude, the acknowledgement of schooling and education that should be present in all placements in OHC was not generally visible in the documents in the case files, although the level of attention had increased. The message for practice is that this issue need more attention on several levels: better planning for the transition between old and new school, a developed cooperation between social services, foster/residential care and schools and a pro-active approach from social services concerning education and schooling.