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-  2018 

How children in foster care engage with loyalty conflict: presenting a model of processes informing loyalty

DOI: 10.1177/0308575918798767

Keywords: Foster care,loyalty conflict,separated children,children’s views,coping mechanisms,adjusting to separation

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The increasing emphasis on outcomes for children in care has prompted much research and drawn attention to the importance of harnessing users’ views on the services they receive. However, this awareness is still limited in some areas, one of which is the loyalty conflict experienced by children in foster care who have to negotiate living with a new family while also retaining their birth family membership. This study assesses the extent to which they experience such conflict and how they cope with the challenges it presents. A qualitative methodology, involving semi-structured interviews with 15 children was employed and grounded theory used to inform the data analysis and construction of a theoretical model. The model comprises five core categories: new realities; considering position; making sense; relating emotionally; and working out loyalties. A sixth category, considering others’ perspectives, emerged from respondent validation and an overarching perspective, self-determination, was found to permeate all other processes and contributed to highlighting complexity. New knowledge is gained through seeking the voices of the children and exploring the position they hold by being within and between two families. Implications for practice and future research are also discussed


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