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date: 21 February 2024

Foster Carelocked

Foster Carelocked

  • Joyce E. EverettJoyce E. EverettCollege for Social Work, Smith College


Social work has long been involved in child foster care. Though its initial involvement de-emphasized the importance of infant–caregiver attachment, Bowlby’s theory of attachment is particularly relevant for child-welfare practice. This entry chronicles the history of child foster care and describes the evolution of legislation most pertinent for the provision of foster care. The characteristics of children in foster care since 2000 and the dynamic flow of children entering and exiting care are described. A brief account of foster care services and future trends in the field are highlighted.


  • Administration and Management
  • Children and Adolescents
  • Couples and Families
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Poverty

Updated in this version

Updated sections on size of foster care populations, types of substitute care, characteristics of foster care children, length of time in care and number of placements with 2011 statistics.

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