Keeping Them in the Family: Outcomes for children placed in kinship care through care proceedings.

Author:Burgess, Cheryl
Position:Book review

Keeping Them in the Family: Outcomes for children placed in kinship care through care proceedings

Joan Hunt, Suzette Waterhouse and Eleanor Lutman BAAF 2008 367 pages 14.95 [pounds sterling]

The placement of children in kinship care in the UK continues to be on the increase for a number of reasons and yet, until recently, there has been a paucity of research studies and practice guidance to inform its use. This comprehensive book is therefore a welcome addition to the growing knowledge base in this area.

The book centres on a research study undertaken by the authors into the medium-term outcomes for a group of 113 children placed with kin as a result of child protection concerns and subsequent care proceedings; it was undertaken as part of the wider Quality Protects research initiative. However, while its primary focus is to follow these children and a small comparison group of children in non-kinship care to see how they fared, in some cases over a period of six years, it does a great deal more in the process. The authors incorporate information about many aspects of kinship care, resulting directly from the research, which will be of interest to practitioners, policy makers and academics alike.

The book's introduction and context for the research study focus on a potted history of the use of kinship care, followed by a description of the study's origins, aims and methods. The authors then clearly set out the outcome measures by which placement success is judged; these are derived from Objective One of the Quality Protects programme and examine placement stability and quality, relationship quality (described as proxy measures) and the 'direct measure' of child functioning. They describe in detailed and plain language how the children fared with reference to all the outcome measures. Where possible, comparisons are made with findings from previous research but studies that look at outcomes in this depth are not common within this area of child placement. In looking at children's progress and functioning, the book highlights the adversities faced by the children prior to placement as well as exploring the reasons that explain some of the placement outcomes. This contextualisation and analysis is crucial...

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