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What can the documents tell us about recognition of schooling? A case file-study of children placed in out-of-home care 1973 to 2008

Conference contribution
Authors Helena Johansson
Ingrid Höjer
Published in 15th EUSARF Conference, Porto, 2-5 October
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Social Work
Language en
Subject categories Youth research

Abstract

Over the last decades there has been increased focus on the educational achievements of children and young people placed in out-of-home care. Evidence from research shows that children and young people with experiences from out-of-home care do not perform well in school, compared to their peers. The aim of the project Educational careers and school achievement of children and young people placed in public care was to improve knowledge about what factors cause the low level of educational achievement for children and young people placed in public care, and to find factors which can lead to positive educational achievements for this group. In this presentation we will focus on one part of the project – a study of 158 case-files for children and young people placed in out-of-home care (OHC) in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The aim of this part of the study was to look at how schooling and education had been recognized in the documented social work at the social services in Gothenburg. All cases were read on site at the Central Municipality Archive in Gothenburg. Four cohorts were included in the study: children born 1967, 1977, 1987 and 1992. 40 case files were selected from each cohort (38 from the 1977 cohort), in total 158 cases. We used three criteria to select the 40 files from each cohort: 1) Type of placement: 25 per cent placed in residential care, and 75 per cent in foster care – as this has roughly been the distribution of OHC in Sweden over the last decades. 2) Gender: an equal distribution between girls and boys. 3) Age. An equal distribution between children in grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9. The documents studied in the cases were the following: The assessment of the child before placements in foster/residential care, the regular follow-ups of the placements performed every six months and the case-notes, such as minutes from visits in foster/residential homes. In the study we counted the number of rows related to schooling and education in the documents. Analyses were then made using the statistical program SPSS. Our analyses show that the documented level of recognition generally was low. Little attention was paid to educational attainments of the children placed in foster/residential care in all three kinds of documents. Changes of school, which would need attention from social services, were not planned adequately. The level of recognition was higher when children/young people had severe behaviour problems, and/or were placed in residential care. However, there was an increased attention to education and schooling for the two latter cohorts (1987,1992), and the involvement of children, young people and parents was more visible. There was also a significantly higher degree of documented exchange of information between schools and foster carers/residential care for children who were placed in OHC 2001 – 2008. The message for practice is that although there has been improvements over the last years, this issue needs more attention on several levels: better documented planning for the transition between old and new school, a developed cooperation between social services, foster/residential care and schools and a pro-active approach from social services concerning education and schooling.

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