Birth Family contact for children in care: How much? How often? Who with?
Irrespective of type of placement, contact with the birth family is one of the more contentious issues in decision-making for children in care. Despite widespread belief that contact with the birth family is beneficial for children and young people in care, this aspect of children's care experience has not received a great deal of attention. In this article I review the literature and draw on research I have undertaken to explore the views of children and young people in care, foster parents, and social work practitioners. The complexity of belonging to more than one family is discussed and tensions in relation to contact with the birth family are identified. It becomes clear that each situation is unique and that there is no “rule of thumb” that can be applied. Five key variables are identified: child or young person's developmental stage and history; child or young person's views and wishes; type of placement and future goals; cultural factors; and work with birth families. Practice guidelines in relation to these are developed in the final section.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1357-5279; 1476-489X
Keywords: Children in care; contact with birth family; children's perspectives; caregivers' perspectives; social workers' perspectives; impact of contact; implications for practice
Research Type: Journal Article
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