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

LISA MORAN, Caroline McGregor, Carmel Devaney

    Research output: Book/ReportProject reportpeer-review


    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 stability
    for children in long-term care in two Irish counties: Donegal and Galway. The sample covers children
    who were in care over a five-year period (2008 to 2013). The intention was to help practitioners to
    demonstrate 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 the
    best interest of the child. The study was a joint project between the the UNESCO Child and Family
    Research Centre (UCFRC) and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) as part of an ongoing research
    The principal objectives of this study were as follows:
    1. Produce a comprehensive scoping review of international and Irish research literature on
    outcomes for permanence and children in care, to function as an information source for Tusla
    social 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 better
    outcomes for them.
    3. Collate a ‘pen picture’ of factors that influence permanence and stability outcomes for children
    and youth, using quantitative data collected by Tusla social workers using case-file analysis
    4. Develop a set of recommendations and guidance documents for social work practitioners on
    improving 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 major
    output of the study (Moran et al., 2016a). A summary version of the literature review was produced as
    an accessible resource for practitioners (Moran et al., 2016b).
    A mixed-method design was utilised including the collation of quantitative data from young people’s
    files and care plans and in-depth biographical narrative interviews with children, young people, parents
    of origin and foster parents. The research affirms the importance of the factors set out in the literature
    as impacting either positively or negatively on a young person’s permanence and stability in care (see
    Moran et al, 2016a). Comparable to international studies, young people conceptualised permanence
    as having a place to call home, and stability was defined as feeling like they belong and that they are
    secure and settled. Unfortunately the study did not achieve an adequate sample for the quantitative
    study and therefore was unable to map – in the level of detail first intended – the connections between
    these factors to test further the relevance and significance of each factor for permanence and stability
    outcomes. However, the qualitative findings make a significant contribution to the existing field of
    knowledge, made possible through the use of a biographical narrative approach with young people,
    parents of origin, and foster parents.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationGalway, Ireland
    Commissioning bodyTusla, the Child and Family Agency
    Number of pages99
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


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


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