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Matching children with foster carers

The decision-making process of finding a non-kinship foster family for a child
PhD ceremony:Ms K. (Kirti) Zeijlmans
When:May 23, 2019
Supervisors:prof. dr. H.W.E. (Hans) Grietens, prof. dr. E.J. (Erik) Knorth
Co-supervisor:M. (Mónica) Lopez Lopez, Dr
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Matching children with foster carers

The matching decision of choosing which available foster family is the best fit for a foster child needs to be made with great care. A mismatch can have negative consequences with long-lasting effects on the development of foster children and families. However, despite the importance of the matching decision, research on this topic is scarce. This dissertation provides valuable insights into the decision-making process of matching by examining the different influencing factors. The results reveal that a diverse, broad range of factors influence the matching decision in family foster care. First of all, exceptions from what normally would be done according to common procedures and ideas are part of practitioners’ daily work. On the one hand, these exceptions are caused by a belief that tailoring the matching process might benefit those involved; on the other hand, obstacles such as shortage of foster families, lack of time, and scarcity of information compromise the decision. The influence of children, parents and foster carers on the matching decision differs per situation. Matching practitioners are key figures when it comes to facilitating the participation of stakeholders; they have to cope with multiple stakeholders with often opposing interests, in a compromised setting with limited choices. The final choice also depends on the used heuristics and the (differences in) practitioners’ argumentation by which they determine which foster family seems the best fit for a child. In short, this dissertation proves the complexity of the matching decision.