Is foster caring associated with an earlier transition to adulthood for caregivers’ own children? ONS Longitudinal Study

Sacker, A., Lacey, R. E., Maughan, B. & Murray, E. T. (2023) SocArvXiv Papers, 19 February 2023. [ONS LS]

Other information:

There is limited research on the longer-term impact of fostering on caregivers’ own children. This study investigates whether the existing children in a fostering household differ from young people in non-caregiving households in the timing of their transitions to key adult roles, known to affect later health and life chances. Using data from the ONS Longitudinal Study, we pooled records from census years 1971 to 2001 and linked them to follow-up records from 1981 to 2011. We identified 2656 children living with a foster child and compared their profiles on the “big five” transitions to roles of adulthood — finishing school; leaving home; finding work and becoming financially independent; getting married; and having children — with those of other children without a foster child in the household (N = 209,453). We fitted multiple exposure models that controlled for childhood sociodemographic confounders, with standard errors adjusted for clustering of records in childhood, to estimate the prevalence of the five roles measured in early adulthood. We found that achieving the transition to adulthood for caregivers’ children was indicated based on four roles. The exception was leaving home. There was some evidence that caregivers’ children might cope better with the transition to adulthood if they were older than the foster child or were female. The findings suggest that supporting foster parents with delaying their children’s transition to adulthood could become part of the role of supervising social workers. Discussing with parents and their adolescent children what barriers might be preventing them from staying in school and what is prompting them to want to leave school and go out to work would be a first step, since educational qualifications have become so dominant for more recent generations of young people aspiring to take up other adult roles.

Available online: SocArvXiv Papers,
Output from project: 1008925


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