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Kirti Zeijlmans, MSc, University of Groningen

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An overview of matching decision making literature

Children who are in need of a foster family placement present very different needs and profiles in terms of age, personality and cultural background. Families willing to foster are also different in their capacities, skills and composition. One of the factors associated with placement success is a good match between these child and family characteristics. Therefore, the decision to place a child with one family over another should be based on scientific knowledge. Yet in scientific journals little research is presented that can help the professionals with their decisions regarding the matching of the child and carer characteristics. Furthermore, professionals are faced with different obstacles, such as a lack of available foster families and insufficient information on the child. This makes matching decision making a complex and uncertain process. In this scoping review the scarce literature on matching in foster care is examined. It has an exploratory scope and provides the groundwork for further research in the matching field by identifying known research as well as gaps in the existing literature. Literature on adoption out of care, in which matching is also an important part of the process, can provide valuable insights or clues that could be transferrable to the matching decision in foster care. A comparison between the two types of matching is provided.

Keywords: decision making, matching, placement