At the University of Siegen diverse qualitative research projects on foster care have been realized and are still in work.
For a list of publications from the research group (mainly in german, but some in english and french) go to:
Bringing previously excluded groups of vulnerable children into foster care
Although there has been considerable development in the amount and range of foster care provision, there is still a need for innovation and greater professionalisation of the agencies – public and non-public - responsible for the care of children with physical, learning or emotional disabilities. At the moment, there is a mismatch between the services provided and the needs of these young people and their families, with the result that outcomes are poor. This raises a fundamental question about how these needs are perceived and defined. If they were to be viewed as primarily concerned with disability, the children and families would be better supported and long-term outlooks would improve. The aim of the pilot project, therefore, is to ascertain perceptions on the nature of the children’s disabilities and the type of foster care service that would address them. It will show how current professional guidance and support will have to be revised if these children - traditionally excluded from foster care - are to be helped and how placement disruptions can be prevented.
Co-operation partner: Erziehungsbüro Rheinland
Project duration: 03.2015 – 02.2017
Funding: Aktion Mensch
A good development of foster children in adult life (2014-2017)This qualitative research project aims to study the sustainability of a good development of children in foster care. The data of the project consists of contrastive biografies collected in previous studies (partially 6 years ago) with young adults from foster care. The same young people are now interviewed again. Making use o a longitudinal design, we are able to understand and analysze the development of foster children in a detailed and sophisticated way. The project is financed by the EmMi Luebeskind Foundation. The foundation has been created by interested foster carers. The aim of the foundation is to support foster care research. We are delighted about the fact that foster parents gather together in order to finance a project like that.
Pilot project Emergency foster care (2014 - 2016)
This project aims to develop and improve professional practice in emergency foster care.
In three model regions (Frankfurt a.M., Cologne and Mühlheim a.d.R.) we study the particular problems emergency care faces. In collaboration with professionals from the resp. region we develop and evaluate strategies for an improved professional practice. The basic aim is to improve the chances for a good development particularly for young children by an accelerated and qualified perspective planning. The goal is to develop and establish suitable procedures in the model region.
The project is financed by Aktion Mensch e.V.
Foster Care Placement break down (2014 - 2016)
Increasingly througout Europe, children unable to live at home with their parents are being placed with foster families rather than in residential care. However, the research indicates that the foster care relationship is not always stable and such placements can break down. This study examines the factors and causes behind terminating such foster care relationships. The information obtained from the research should contribute to stabilising foster care placements in Switzerland in the future.The project is financed by the Jacobs foundationand carried out in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Thomas Gabriel (Project Management), Clara Bombach M.A., REnate Steohle lic. phil, Prof. Dr. Claire Cameron, University College London
Positive developments of boys and girls despite a rough start (2013 - 2015)
This qualitative research project aim to find new responses to demographic change in a gender sensitive way by analyzing biographical trajectories of boys and girls from foster care. All biografies feature a rough start and - most often surprisingly - a positive development in young adult life.Turning points and the moment they appear are of particular interest as well as the changes they bring along.The project aims to develop new ideas and recommendations for stimulating positive developments after a rough start.The project is financed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, North Rine - Westfalia
FALEFOS - Family learning foster care (2013 - 2015)
An EU Grundtvig Project on the collaboration between Foster Families and Birth Families
Project Homepage in english:
The Process of returning children in foster care to their birth families
In this piece of applied research, the return of children from foster care to their birth families was analysed by charting the risk and protective factors associated with success, thus making practice in this area more effective.
However, it was found that a child’s move back home is a complex negotiation. Although the moment of reunification can be identified, it is a process rather than an event as it leads to radical changes in both the foster and birth families and generates its own set of problems. Relationships within in and between the two families will have changed since the child’s initial separation and important decisions affecting the child will have been made by professionals, carers and birth relatives. If the experiences of the families and children’s well-being are to be improved, the components of the service and the quality of the cooperation between all those involved need to be monitored and informed by effective guidance.
For this purpose, the research team scrutinised the literature and professional guidance on children’s return home from foster care. It then explored the current situation in parts of Germany and the experience of all those involved. Samples of children were assembled to study the sequence of events in greater depth both retrospectively and prospectively over a period of one year, using a multi-disciplinary methodology. Finally, the recommendations for policy and practice emanating from the study were tested for their feasibility, relevance and effectiveness in cooperation with groups of professionals responsible for managing this transition.
Co-operation partner: Institut für Vollzeitpflege und Adoption (IVA) e.V.
Project duration: 10.2012 - 09.2012
Funding: Stiftung Deutsche Jugendmarke
Analysis of an Online Discussion Forum for Foster Carers (2009-2010)
In this project postings of foster parents from an internet forum were systematically analyzed. In the centre of the analysis are standing two highly differentiated category systems, of liabilities and resources, which were built of the emotional and authentic narratives of the foster parents.
Favorable and unfavorable biographical trajectories of boys and girls in foster care (2011-2012)
In this study we analyze resp. two very favorable and two very unfavorable biographical trajectories of young women and men (alltogether eight biographies).
We consider objective frame conditions as well as subjective assessments which we reconstruct from the interviewees narratives.
Besides methodological aspects the project aims to find out more about critical life events, trning points, liabilities (subjective/ objective), ressources, subjective paradigms as well as gender specific experiences, attributions and coping strategies.
The project is financed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, North Rine - Westfalia
Siblings in Foster Care (2010-2011)
The project is carried out in collaboration with the research unit of SOS children's villages, Munich. The project studies how children and young people in SOS children's villages consider the relationships with their siblings.The aim is to get new insights in the dynamics of sibling relationships of children in care and children with a history of difficult family situations.
The main interest of the project is to gain more knowledge about decision-making favorable to children's development, processes and structure of in -care systems for siblings. The goal for social work practise is to evolve the pedagogic standards for accompaning children in care.
Project Ressource Pflegeeltern (Ressources Foster Carers) (2009 - 2011)
This project explored the experiences of foster carers who look after children with disabilities and chronic diseases, some of which will shorten children’s lives. Extensive interviews were conducted with foster mothers and fathers to determine:
• How they experience their work and incorporate it into their family life
• What kind of support they need at different times and in different situations, and
• How they utilise different sources of help, such as personal contacts, wider family and professional inputs, to handle difficult situations
Thereby, the following questions could be answered:
• How did they manage this?
• What kind of support do foster parents need to overcome problems that are an inevitable part of providing substitute care?
Through this study, it will be demonstrated that under the right conditions, foster carers can work effectively with a number of agencies and successfully look after children with a high dependency needs, so questioning the commonly held assumption that such children can only be cared for by professionals in fixed setting.
Co-operation partner and funding: Zentraler Fachdienst zur Betreuung von Pflegekindern mit chronischen Erkrankungen und Behinderungen der Diakonie Düsseldorf
Project duration: 10.2009 – 09.2011
Project "Leuchtturm" ("Lighthouse") (2009-2011)
- Further information will be provided soon -
Project "Pflegekinderstimme" ("Voice of Foster Children") (2009-2011)Knowledge about how foster children experience growing up in a foster care is still limited. That's supposed to change: We want to give foster children a voice. Thus we interview them and listen to their life stories. To be able to use their experience, we discuss intersting aspects in workshops with foster carers. Form a comparison of children’s and foster carer’s experiences we develop new approaches in counselling and accompaning foster families.
The project is financed by Aktion Mensch e.V. and carried out in collaboration with PAN e.V., a foste carer's association.
Growing up in Foster Care - Pilot Study (2007-2008)
We have only limited knowledge on how children experience their growing up in a foster family. Many stakeholders claim to represent the intersts of the children, but the children are rarly heard in social work practice and research. Our aim is to fill this desideratum by an extensive study. The presented explorative Pilot study aims to prepare the extensive study, by trying the research methods in data collection and analysis.The study is based on biografical reconstructive and narrative research methods.