The challenges of designing a feasibility study of low cost home based interventions in family foster care

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPosterCommunication


It is well documented that children placed in out-of-home care in Denmark perform poorly on a wide range of short-term and long-term outcomes compared to other children. This paper describes the core components of an innovative project that will attempt to address some of the major weaknesses of previous interventions and which, if successful, will be rolled out across foster care families nationwide. The paper also discusses a range of issues uncovered in the project’s first phase that are of relevance to child care professionals across the world.
Designed as a four year feasibility study, the €2.3 million project aims at improving the wellbeing and educational outcomes of children in family foster care through two elements: a) systematic and regular documentation of these outcomes by the foster family coupled with b) a catalogue of interventions that the foster family itself can implement with a minimum of external professional support. These two elements constitute the project’s infrastructure, which has a number of unique characteristics. First, it will be anchored in the foster family. Second, it will be responsive both to the interests of major actors and interest groups in the field and the requirements of the legal framework of child care. Third, it will make use of an existing digital platform used by two-thirds of the country’s municipalities.
We start by systematically documenting the scientific, institutional and juridical issues raised by the project’s complexity. Some central questions we examine are: What valid and reliable routine outcome measurement tools exist that are easy and quick to use, relatively cheap and sufficiently sensitive to capture change in relevant dimensions of wellbeing? How does one identify or develop a set of low cost, home based, easy to implement interventions requiring a minimum of external professional support? What factors need to be addressed to ensure the active cooperation of the project participants – foster children and their families, municipal caseworkers and consultants – and the support of key interest groups? Perhaps most important, how does one resolve the potential tension between the stringent demands of evidence-based interventions and the need to ensure that the project infrastructure is meaningful to the foster family? Our findings will be disseminated through a range of channels including systematic reviews and will feed directly into the pretest phase and large scale trial phase of the infrastructure.
The project infrastructure and its implementation are of relevance to professionals in the field grappling with the enduring challenge of ensuring the scientific integrity and sustainability of interventions aimed at improving the lives of children in foster care.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2018
EventEUSARF 2018: All children, all families - University of Portugal, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 2 Oct 20185 Oct 2018


ConferenceEUSARF 2018
LocationUniversity of Portugal
Internet address


  • social work and social conditions

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