Parents caring for children and young people with disabilities typically have extensive additional demands on their time and resources. This added pressure can significantly impact well-being and mental health. In extreme circumstances, parents may seek an out-of-home placement for their child. Previous research has looked into factors that influence decisions for families to place their child into out-of-home care but little is known about outcomes for these young people and their families. The Supporting Families study aimed to explore the impact of a voluntary out-of-home placement on young people with disabilities, and consequences for their families. Fourteen parents/carers, twenty six case managers, six accommodation services' managers, and four young people with disabilities participated in face-to-face and telephone interviews and focus groups. Participants reported a range of outcomes for young people in care. Positive outcomes included increased levels of respect for themselves and others, an improvement in independent living skills, and reductions in challenging behaviours. Negative outcomes centred on their experiences of grief, loss and rejection, as well as behavioural problems. Positive and negative outcomes were also found for families. For many parents/carers there was a reduction in perceived stress and caring load, as well as improved mental health and wellbeing for them and the child's siblings. However, parents/carers often experienced ongoing feelings of guilt, grief and loss. The study adds to knowledge about outcomes of being in voluntary out-of-home care for this small but vulnerable group of young people in care and their families.
- Out-of-home care
- Young people