Project: Care planning for permanence in foster care

Funder: The Nuffield Foundation

Date: 2008 – 2010

Research Team: Professor Gillian Schofield, Dr Clive Sellick, Mary Beek, Dr Emma Ward

The Planning for Permanence in Foster Care project was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. It built on the findings from the Permanence in Foster Care study (2006-7) funded by the Big Lottery Research Fund. It investigated in more depth a total cohort of 230 children placed with plans for permanence in long-term foster care. It also studied social work practice and planning in six local authorities with different planning models. The aims were:

  • To compare how different care planning models in six local authorities currently define and apply the concept of permanence in ‘long-term' and ‘permanent' foster care, in particular when planning for children of different ages.
  • To investigate social work practice in assessing, planning, linking and matching for long-term and permanent foster care – both those children who are matched with new families and those matched with existing carers.
  • To investigate the views and experiences of social workers, foster carers and children of different care planning, linking and matching models.
  • To contribute to the development of care planning and social work practice in permanent family placement in foster care, both in local authorities and the independent fostering sector, and to offer comparisons with some of the permanence planning and matching practice that has developed in adoption.

The project conducted an analysis of care planning profiles and assessment documents and reports for this cohort. We also conducted interviews with 40 foster carers and 20 children and young people and held focus groups for social workers  is all six local authorities.  In addition, the project included an exploration of the role of the independent fostering sector in providing permanent placements in foster care, and the nature of local authority commissioning arrangements.

The project provided not only a rich picture of the experiences of children, foster families and professionals in long –term foster care, it reinforced messages from our previous research that long-term foster could provide loving homes and permanence for troubled children - but also that these children presented multiple challenges and so high quality foster care social work support were both essential to promote child well-being and stability into adulthood.


Care Planning for Permanence in Foster Care (2011)  Schofield, G., Beek, M., Ward, E. and Sellick, C. Norwich : UEA  Research Briefing, Executive Summary, Final Report

Schofield G, Beek, M, and Ward, E. (2012) Part of the Family: Care Planning for Permanence in Foster Care   Children and Youth Services Review 34, pp. 244-253 Abstract

Schofield G, Beek, M, and Ward, E and Biggart, L. (2013) Professional foster carer and committed parent: role conflict and role enrichment at the interface between work and family in long-term foster care Child and Family Social Work 18, pp. 46-56 Abstract