Similarities and Differences in the Psychosocial Development of Children Placed in Different 24-h Settings

Abstract

Similarities and differences in the (short-term) psychosocial development of children in foster care, family-style group care, and residential care were investigated in a sample of 121 Dutch children (M age = 8.78 years; SD = 2.34 years; 47% female; 59% Caucasian) one year after their initial placement. Pretest and posttest measurements were carried out at the substitute caregivers using the CBCL. The results were examined at group level and case level. At group level, the findings showed no evidence for higher effectiveness in favor to the family-oriented settings (foster care, and family-style group care), as hypothesized. By contrast, some small differences were found between foster care and family-style group care, in favor of the latter. At individual level, a more or less equal number of children (18%) with a clinical pretest score on psychosocial functioning clinically significant improved (behavioral normalization). An important concern is that a number of children without clinical psychosocial problems at the time of admission clinically significant deteriorated (behavioral aberration) in psychosocial functioning (20%). This might indicate a poor match between the risks, needs and responsivity of the child on the one hand and the chosen intervention on the other. Future research on factors that (prior and during placement) positively as well as negatively affect the child’s psychosocial development is needed to further clarify this finding.