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We are pleased to announce the 1st Newsletter of EUSARF!

In this newsletter, which will appear twice a year, you will find information on ongoing projects and recent publications in the field of child and family welfare. We will also announce forthcoming conferences, meetings, etc. Further, we will give some ‘inside views’ by interviewing key figures in the field.

A major aim of this newsletter is to strengthen the bonds between researchers around the world and to help build up and maintain research networks. Therefore, we hope many people will subscribe. We invite you to spread the word and to give us input, so that the newsletter becomes a newsletter of all of us.

Enjoy reading and many thanks in advance for your contributions!

Best wishes,
Hans Grietens
President EUSARF

The venue of the 14th Biannual EUSARF Conference will be Oviedo in Asturias, Spain.

Please mark your calendars now for the 2016 EUSARF Conference: September 13-16.

Recent publications

Child Welfare System and Migrant Children. A Cross Country Study of Policies and Practice. Edited by Marit Skivenes, Ravinder Barn, Katrin Kriz and Tarja Pösö, this book examines where, why and to what extent immigrant children are represented in the child welfare system in different countries. These countries include Australia/New Zealand, Belgium/the Netherlands, England, Estonia, Canada, Finland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, and the United States.

The International Online Journal Social Work and Society has recently published a special edition on Turning Points in the life of young people from residential and foster care. To access the journal go to:

Theoretical and Empirical Insights on Child and Family Poverty. Cross National Perspectives. Edited by Elizabeth Fernandez, Anat Zeira, 
Tiziano Vecchiato and Cinzia Canali, this book brings together a range of theoretical and empirical perspectives on conceptualization, measurement, multidimensional impacts, and policy and service responses to address child and family poverty. It illuminates issues and trends through country level chapters, thus shedding light on dynamics of poverty in different jurisdictions. 

New research projects
Hestia Research Project. The kick-off of HESTIA took place in January 2015 in the Netherlands. This 3-year-long project has a total budget of €730,619 financed by NORFACE Welfare States Futures under the European Union's 7th Framework Programme. HESTIA aims to discover the nature and impact of variations in child protection systems through a comparison of three different welfare states (the Netherlands, Germany and England). The project includes a comparative analysis of child protection policy and two empirical studies of child protection practice. The research team includes: Nina Biehal, Hans Grietens, Heinz Kindler, Erik Knorth, Mónica López & Eric van Santen

Matching in foster care: can an instrument be helpful in predicting the success of a foster placement? The Foster Parents Preference Questionnaire Revised (VBPS-R), based on the interaction-oriented matching model, is developed for use with aspirant foster parents. The VBPS-R consists of 24 vignettes, each describing a fictional but realistic foster care situation. Five characteristics of the foster child are embedded in each vignette: age, gender, problem behavior, collaboration with the (birth) parents and extra workload. In this longitudinal study aspirant foster parents are asked to fill in the VBPS-R. After the placement of a foster child in their family, the profile of the foster child is studied. After six and twelve month’s placement, success of the foster placement is mapped (breakdown, foster parents’ satisfaction and development of the foster child). First results are promising: the instrument discriminates different types of aspirant foster parents. It gives a good insight in the foster parents’ preferences regarding the foster child characteristics imbedded in the vignettes. Further research concerning the validity and reliability of the VBPS-R is planned and will be discussed later. For more information about this research contact Skrallan De Maeyer & Johan Vanderfaeillie (

Home or care?  Pathways and outcomes for maltreated children. Studies of outcomes for children in care have rarely attempted to disentangle the impact of admission to care from the effects of their previous adverse experiences. As a result, key questions remain unanswered. Does being in care compensate children for previous disadvantage and improve their wellbeing or does it instead compound the disadvantages they bring with them into care? In other words, do children who enter care do better or worse than children with similar backgrounds and histories who remain at home? This study, funded by the ESRC, will compare outcomes for up to 400 maltreated children who enter care to those for maltreated children from similar backgrounds who remain at home. Three groups will be compared: children in care, children reunified with their families and those who never entered care. Interviews with the children’s current caregivers will collect data on child health, emotional and behavioural development, relationships, speech and language development and the caregiver’s mind-mindedness and parenting style. Questionnaires to social workers will gather data on the nature, severity and timing of maltreatment, parent problems and decision-making. The study will link these data to secondary data from local authority databases and to socio-economic data collected by a cohort study which interviewed the mothers of some of the sample children during
pregnancy. The research team includes Nina Biehal (PI), Jim Wade, Linda Cusworth, and Panos Vostanis. 

CRESCERE Growing Up in Italy. A longitudinal study for assessing the well-being of children. This is a project coordinated by Fondazione Zancan, in the north-east of Italy, in collaboration with 85 municipalities, the local health department, and funded by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo.  After one year from the beginning, there are 500 adolescents and families participating in this longitudinal study.  Children are monitored over the time, from 11 y.o. up to 18 y.o. in their way of thinking, behaving and relating with each other. The main goal is to understand how children grow up, which are the factors that promote a positive growth and protect them from harm. Findings indicate that there is a positive relationship between children and parents. Children are able to easily talk with their parents, mainly with the mother. They feel supported and protected by the family. The relationship with the mother is smoother for the daughters. Italians, in contrast to their foreigner siblings, feel a stronger support from their families. The presence of grandparents living nearby helps to reinforce this sense of protection.  The dialogue and the relationship with the parents is crucial because it triggers a virtuous circle. When there is a fluid dialogue with the parents, children feel more supported by the family, they have more self-confidence and they feel better. For more information: or write to

Permanently Progressing. This study, funded by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), will focus on children in Scotland who entered care before the age of five. It will explore experiences and outcomes for these children and identify what helps to ensure stability and security. The study will also explore patterns of decision-making regarding permanent placement. Surveys of social workers, foster carers and adopters will be used to collect data on a sample of approximately 500 children who entered care in 2012-13 and were still there (or had been adopted from care) one year later. In depth interviews will also be carried out with a sub-sample of children, carers, adopters, and social workers. The research team includes Nina Biehal and Brigid Daniel (co-PIs), Linda Cusworth, Cheryl Burgess and Helen Whincup. Project website:

Impact of the war on children in care. Exposure to war is a devastating experience to everyone, but especially to children. Children in foster care and in group homes are some of the most vulnerable groups. Hence, wars may have an especially traumatic impact on children in care. Benbenishty's team is studying the impact of the recent war with Gaza on children and carers in foster families and small group homes. The findings will be used to design interventions and build resilience among children in care. We hope that peace is around the corner; but until then, we have to take care of the most vulnerable children. For more information contact with Prof. Rami Benbenishty at
Connecting research and practice

Supporting collaboration in Foster Care: Development, implementation and evaluation of a mediation-program to improve collaboration in foster care. Collaboration problems between birth parents and foster parents are the main focus of this project set up by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel on behalf of the Department for Welfare, Public Health and Family and with additional funding from CERA SCRL. The project aims at developing, implementing and evaluating a protocolled program aiming at improving the collaboration between parents and foster parents. In the program, parents and foster parents receive counseling by an neutral social worker. Through the use of mediation techniques birth and foster parents are supported to work towards a shared solution for the indicated collaboration problems. Both individual and joint sessions are foreseen. The program is implemented in four out of five foster care services in Flanders. An RCT is set up in combination with a qualitative study to examine its effects. If proven effective, the developed protocol will be deployed throughout Flanders with the objective of increasing the quality and the success of foster care placements. Team: Mrs. Laurence Belenger, Dr. Johan Vanderfaeillie, Dr. Frank Van Holen, Mrs. Skrallan De Maeyer and  Mrs. Laura Gypen. For more information about this research:

A multi-site programme for assessing outcomes. PersonaLAB (Personalised Environment for Research on Services, Outcomes and Need Assessment) is a multi-site programme c
oordinated by Fondazione Zancan. It aims to involve professionals and organisations that work in the field of human services for evaluating the effectiveness of care pathway using a common methodology and a user friendly IT platform, available in Italian and English. Such a programme organises systematic analysis and evaluation of care processes and their costs, considering different needs and different forms of care (health, social, integrated care), assessing the effectiveness. For more information:

APFEL international symposium "The right family for each child: the issue of matching in foster care" was celebrated on the 16th April 2015 in Leiden, the Netherlands. This symposium, with over a hundred of participants, aimed to bridge the gap between practice and research in the field of matching in foster care. Matching models in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and England were presented, and the available tools for linking and matching were reviewed. The presentations of the speakers will be soon available at
For more information you can contact:

On the Web

A “Generative Welfare” approach. Fondazione Zancan has launched a website that is dedicated to the “Generative Welfare” (GW) approach  ( Papers, articles and contributions on the GW topic, from both a theoretical and an applied perspective, are posted on the website. Through the website, anyone interested is welcome to join the “GW community” and possibly share their experience, thereby contributing to the cultural and practice-based development of the GW approach. Why adopt a GW approach? The economic crisis over the last years has caused negative socio-economic consequences across most developed countries, with the poorest people having been hardest hit. In Italy alone, the number of poor increased by 2.6 million between 2011 and 2013 (when it reached record levels), and the number of unemployed also increased to more than 3 million people. These issues are particularly severe among the young, causing economic, psychological and social consequences. Poverty in many countries is becoming a structural problem, which is gradually widening social inequality and undermining the fundamental rights of citizens. This requires policymakers to take adequate actions and social forces to drive cultural change.
Education and training

The MA in Advanced Development in Social Work (ADVANCES) is designed to give social workers outstanding levels of practice skills so that they can confidently respond to the vulnerabilities and uncertainties facing societies across the world. This is an international MA in Social Work programme and students will rotate between university departments in five European countries: Denmark, France, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. The 22-month course is explicitly targeted at qualified, experienced social workers from around the world who wish to upgrade their practice skills, especially with a transnational focus. The ADVANCES Visiting Scholars programme has now launched and invites applications from guest lecturers who have considerable teaching or practice experience.  Further information and an application form is available under Visiting Scholars. 
More information at
Catching up with EUSARF members

Jim Whittaker will travel to Savannah, Georgia, in April to present at the annual conference of the American Association of Children’s Residential Centers (AACRC) on the topic: Using Cross-National Resources to Build Evidence-Based Practices in Contemporary U.S. Residential Treatment: What’s the Connection? In May, he will give the keynote at a group care symposium organized by the Alberta Association of Children & Families (AASCF) in Edmonton, Alberta, Can. Jim continues to work with colleagues Lisa Holmes (Loughborough, U.) and fellow EUSARF board member Jorge F. del Valle (Oviedo, U.) as well as colleagues in the U.S. to identify potential sources of support for a small, international working summit conference specific to identifying research priorities for therapeutic residential care. He looks forward to connecting with many EUSARF colleagues at the June board meeting in Malosco, Italy. 

At the University of Siegen a research focus Research on growing up in foster care has been established under the chair of Prof. Dr. Klaus Wolf. In this context, diverse qualitative research projects on foster care have been realized and are still in work. Check the website for further information on the projects:

We are delighted to inform you about the launch of our EUSARF website. In the new site you will find information about the association and our activities. There is also a section with published papers. If you have any documents you would like to add on the website, please let us know.
We hope you enjoy exploring it! If you have any comments or suggestions, please email

The 8th Foster Care Research Conference will take place on the 17th and 18th September 2015 at the University of Siegen, Germany. The conference topic will be Development. For further information on the conference visit the Network’s Homepage:

Child Maltreatment in Context: The first Haruv International Conference. The Haruv Institute is pleased to announce its first international conference on child maltreatment, to be held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 14-15 October, 2015. The call for abstracts remains open till March 30. For more information:
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