Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 301–318 | Cite as

The Concept of ‘Family’ Among Norwegian Adolescents in Long-Term Foster Care

  • Ingunn T. EllingsenEmail author
  • David Shemmings
  • Ingunn Størksen


In Norway, about 8,000 children live in foster homes (about 3.300 in age group 13–17). What does ‘family’ mean to these children? We explored the views and feelings about ‘family’ among 22 adolescents who are living in long-term foster care. Three patterns emerged. Most of the participants expressed confidence and adjustment in the foster home placement and felt bonded to both their foster family and to their birth family. Other adolescents expressed a strong sense of membership to their birth family but not to their foster family, and the remaining adolescents described a weak bond to birth family but a strong bond to their foster family. The main implications of the three patterns are discussed in the light of policy and practice.


Family Foster children Q-methodology Attachment Resilience 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingunn T. Ellingsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Shemmings
    • 2
  • Ingunn Størksen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social Studies, Faculty of Social SciencesUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway
  2. 2.School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  3. 3.Centre for Behavioural Research, Faculty of Arts and EducationUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

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