A Mixed-Method Study of Outcomes for Permanence and Stability for Children in Care

LISA MORAN, Caroline McGregor, Carmel Devaney

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The aim of this study was to explore how young people who have been in care, and their carers,conceptualise permanence and stability. This study focuses on outcomes for permanence and stabilityfor children in long-term care in two Irish counties: Donegal and Galway. The sample covers childrenwho were in care over a five-year period (2008 to 2013). The intention was to help practitioners todemonstrate tangible and measurable outcomes for children in different care arrangements (e.g. longterm foster care, residential care) to enhance evidence-based practice and inform decisions in thebest interest of the child. The study was a joint project between the the UNESCO Child and FamilyResearch Centre (UCFRC) and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) as part of an ongoing researchpartnership.The principal objectives of this study were as follows:1. Produce a comprehensive scoping review of international and Irish research literature onoutcomes for permanence and children in care, to function as an information source for Tuslasocial work practitioners (e.g. for court reporting purposes).2. Complete a narrative, qualitative study of children and young people’s ‘journeys’ into care,how they interpret permanence and stability, and their opinions on factors that lead to betteroutcomes for them.3. Collate a ‘pen picture’ of factors that influence permanence and stability outcomes for childrenand youth, using quantitative data collected by Tusla social workers using case-file analysistechniques.4. Develop a set of recommendations and guidance documents for social work practitioners onimproving ways of working with children and families, based on the research findings.A review of literature on outcomes for permanence and stability was completed as the first majoroutput of the study (Moran et al., 2016a). A summary version of the literature review was produced asan accessible resource for practitioners (Moran et al., 2016b).A mixed-method design was utilised including the collation of quantitative data from young people’sfiles and care plans and in-depth biographical narrative interviews with children, young people, parentsof origin and foster parents. The research affirms the importance of the factors set out in the literatureas impacting either positively or negatively on a young person’s permanence and stability in care (seeMoran et al, 2016a). Comparable to international studies, young people conceptualised permanenceas having a place to call home, and stability was defined as feeling like they belong and that they aresecure and settled. Unfortunately the study did not achieve an adequate sample for the quantitativestudy and therefore was unable to map – in the level of detail first intended – the connections betweenthese factors to test further the relevance and significance of each factor for permanence and stabilityoutcomes. However, the qualitative findings make a significant contribution to the existing field ofknowledge, made possible through the use of a biographical narrative approach with young people,parents of origin, and foster parents.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Place of PublicationGalway, Ireland
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


  • Child welfare
  • Permanence
  • stability
  • Outcomes
  • children in care


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