McAuley, C. and Trew, K.
Children’s adjustment over time in foster care: cross informant agreement, stability and placement disruption
British Journal of Social Work, 30, (1), . (doi:10.1093/bjsw/30.1.91).
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This paper reports on part of a prospective study of all children entering new planned long-term foster placements in Northern Ireland within a seven month period. This part of the study charted the competencies and behaviour of the children (N=19) over time in the home and school environments. This paper aims to specifically examine three questions. First, the extent, if any, of cross-informant agreement in ratings between foster mothers, foster fathers and teachers. Secondly, the stability of rated adjustment over time. Finally, the relationship, if any, between rated adjustment early in placement and placement outcome by the two-year point. Foster mothers and foster fathers completed the Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist in relation to the foster children, and teachers completed the companion Teacher's Report Form in relation to both the foster children and their classroom peers. All the adult informants completed the tests at four months and again at one year into placement. Findings from this small intensive study indicate strong agreement between foster mothers and foster fathers but not between foster carers and teachers. Stability of rated adjustment over time was found with all informants. There was some evidence that foster carers' ratings of the children's externalizing behaviour at four months predicted placement outcome at two years. Limitations of the small sample size are considered. Suggestions for further research are made.
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