Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 530–544 | Cite as

Sustainable Family Care for Children with Disabilities

  • David McConnell
  • Amber Savage
  • Rhonda Breitkreuz
  • Dick Sobsey
Original Paper


The majority of parents want to continue caring for their sons and daughters with disabilities at home, and they are expected and actively encouraged to do so. Notwithstanding, and for reasons that are not well understood, a substantial number of parents seek to place their disabled son or daughter out-of-home. The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes of parent-carers in Alberta, Canada, toward out-of-home placement. The primary objective was to identify factors that may explain why some families, and not others, seriously consider out-of-home placement as an option for their child. This knowledge is vital for developing social care policies and programs that support parents and promote sustainable family care for children with disabilities. A stratified (by child age group) random sample of 538 families raising children with disabilities in Alberta, Canada took part. Participants completed the family life survey, which incorporated measures of child and family characteristics, sustainability of the daily routine, and out-of-home placement propensity. Results suggest that family placement propensity is inversely associated with the sustainability of the daily routine. Sustainability of the daily routine is, in turn, more strongly associated with social-ecological resources, including parental control-over-work and the adequacy of child care options, than with child characteristics, including activity limitations and behaviour problems. If families have the social-ecological resources they need to create and maintain a daily routine that is congruent with their values and goals, and with the needs, interests and competences of family members, then they are unlikely to give out-of-home placement any serious consideration.


Out-of-home placement Children with disabilities Ecocultural theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David McConnell
    • 1
  • Amber Savage
    • 1
  • Rhonda Breitkreuz
    • 2
  • Dick Sobsey
    • 3
  1. 1.Family and Disability Studies Initiative, Rehabilitation MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Human EcologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Educational PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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