Child Indicators Research

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 735–760 | Cite as

What Matters in for the Subjective Well-Being of Children in Care?

  • Joan Llosada-GistauEmail author
  • Ferran Casas
  • Carme Montserrat


Children’s subjective well-being (SWB) constitutes an important component in understanding their quality of life. However, little is known about children in public care regarding their perceptions and satisfaction with life. The purpose of this study is to explore differences in SWB between adolescents in residential care, kinship care and family foster care with no relatives. The study used data from care population in Catalonia (Spain) aged 12–14 years (N = 669): 397 adolescents in residential care, 251 adolescents in kinship care and 41 adolescents in non-kinship foster care. The questionnaire of the International Survey of Children’s Well-Being (ISCWeB) was adapted for children in care. It includes a psychometric scale on SWB, the Personal Well-Being Index-School Children (PWI-SC6). Multiple regressions have been used to explore which factors are related to children’s subjective well-being according to type of placement. Findings showed that adolescents living in kinship and non-kinship foster care reported better SWB in all life domains than those in residential care. On one hand, variables as gender and age and on the other hand, the agreement with their placement, satisfaction with the school, with their relationships with friends, and with their use of time and computer, may have an influence on their SWB. These findings highlight the need to address the participation of children any decision that affects their lives, the importance of supporting the education of children in care, and the importance of having friends and of their leisure time. Results are discussed in view of the value of practice and political implications.


Children Subjective well-being Residential care Kinship care Non-kinship foster care 



We would like to express our thanks to the children who have participated in the study.


  1. Biehal, N., Sinclair, I., & Wade, J. (2015). Reunifying abused or neglected children: decision-making and outcomes. Child Abuse and Neglect. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.04.014.Google Scholar
  2. Boss, P. (1999). Ambiguous Loss Theory: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Burgess, C., Rossvoll, F., Wallace, B., & Daniel, B. (2010). It’s just like another home, just another family, so it’s nae different’ Children’s voices in kinship care: a research study about the experience of children in kinship care in Scotland. Child Family Social Work, 15(3), 297–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Campbell, A., Converse, P., & Rodgers, W. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations and satisfactions. New York: Russel Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  5. Canali, C., & Vecciato, T. (Eds.). (2013). Foster care in Europe. What do we know about outcomes and evidences? Padova: Fondazione E. Zancan.Google Scholar
  6. Carbone, J., Sawyer, M., Searle, A., & Robinson, P. (2007). The health-related quality of life of children and adolescents in home-based foster care. Quality of Life Research, 16(7), 1157–1166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Casas, F. (2011). Subjective social indicators and child and adolescents wellbeing. Child Indicators Research, 4(4), 555–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Casas, F., & Bello, A. (2012). Calidad de vida y bienestar infantil subjetivo en España. Madrid: UNICEF.Google Scholar
  9. Casas, F., Sarriera, J. C., Abs, D., Coenders, G., Alfaro, J., Saforcada, E., & Tonon, G. (2012). Subjective indicators of personal well-being among adolescents. Performance and results for different scales in Latin-language speaking countries: A contribution to the international debate. Child Indicators Research, 5(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Casas, F., Baltatescu, S., Bertrán, I., González, M., & Hatos, A. (2013). School satisfaction among adolescents: Testing different indicators for its measurement and its relationship with overall life satisfaction and subjective well-being in Romania and Spain. Social Indicators Research, 111, 665–681.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chaves, C., Lima, F., Mendonça, L., Custódio, I., & Matias, E. (2013). Avaliação do crescimento e desenvolvimento de crianças institucionalizadas. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem, 66(5), 668–674.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cummins, R A., & Lau, A. (2005). Manual: personal wellbeing index - school children. Third edition. Resource document. Melbourne: Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University. Retrieved on December 1, 2012 from
  13. Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., Van Pallant, J., Vugt, J., & Misajon, R. (2003). Developing a national index of subjective well-being: The Australian Unity Well-being Index. Social Indicators Research, 64, 159–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Del Valle, J. F., López, M., Montserrat, C., & Bravo, A. (2009). Twenty years of foster care in Spain. Profiles, patterns and outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(8), 847–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Departament de Benestar Social i Família. (2013). Memòria del Departament de Benestar Social i Família. Generalitat de Catalunya.
  16. Departament de Benestar Social i Família. (2014). Infografia de Maltractament infantil. Generalitat de Catalunya.
  17. Diener, E. (2012). New findings and future directions for subjective well-being research. American Psychologist, 67(8), 590–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dinisman, T., Montserrat, C., & Casas, F. (2012). The subjective well-being of Spanish adolescents: Variations according to different living arrangements. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(12), 2374–2380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farmer, E., & Moyers, S. (2008). Kinship Care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Fernández-Daza, M. P., & Fernández-Parra, A. (2013). Problemas de comportamiento y competencias psicosociales en niños y adolescentes institucionalizados. Universitas Psychologica, 12(3), 797–810.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (2009). Relations among well-being, avoidant coping, and active coping in a large simple of Australian adolescents. Psychological Reports, 104, 745–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilbert, R., Widom, C. S., Brown, K., Fergusson, D., Webb, E., & Janson, S. (2009). Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries. The Lancet, 373, 68–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Grabe, S., Hyde, J. S., & Lindberg, S. M. (2007). Body objectification and depression in adolescents: the role of gender, shame, and rumination. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 164–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Henin, J. (2013). A sense of belonging in a changeable everyday life – a follow-up study of young people in kinship, network, and traditional foster families. Child and Family Social Work, 19(2), 165–173.Google Scholar
  25. Jackson, S., & Cameron, C. (Eds.). (2014). Improving access to further and higher education for young people in public care. European policy and practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Llosada-Gistau, J., Montserrat, C., & Casas, F. (2015). The subjective well-being of adolescents in residential care compared to that of the general population. Children and Youth Services Review, 52, 150–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. López, M., & Del Valle, J. F. (2015). The waiting children: pathways (and future) of children in long-term residential care. British Journal of Social Work, 45(2), 457–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martín, E., Muñoz, C., Rodríguez, T., & Pérez, Y. (2008). De la residencia a la escuela: la integración social de los menores en acogimiento residencial con el grupo de iguales en el contexto escolar. Psicothema, 20(3), 376–382.Google Scholar
  29. Montserrat, C. (2012). Kinship care, messages from research. Child & Family Social Work, 19(3), 367–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Montserrat, C., & Casas, F. (2007). Kinship foster care from the perspective of quality of life: Research on the satisfaction of the stakeholders. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1, 227–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Montserrat, C., Casas, F., & Bertran, I. (2013a). Desigualdad de oportunidades educativas entre los adolescentes en acogimiento residencial y familias. Infancia y Aprendizaje, 36(4), 443–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Montserrat, C., Casas, F., & Malo, S. (2013b). Delayed educational pathways and risk of social exclusion: The case of young people from public care in Spain. European Journal of Social Work, 16(1), 6–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Montserrat, C., Casas, F. & Baena, M. (2015). La educación de niños, niñas y adolescentes en el sistema de protección ¿Un problema o una oportunidad? (p. 206). Girona: Documenta Universitaria.Google Scholar
  34. Rees, G., Pople, L., & Goswami, H. (2011). Links between family economic factors and children’s subjective well-being: Initial findings from wave 2 and wave 3 quarterly surveys. London: The Children’s Society.Google Scholar
  35. Schütz, F., Sarriera, J., Bedin, L., & Montserrat, C. (2015). Subjective well-being of children in residential care: Comparison between children in institutional care and children living with their families. Psicoperspectivas, 14(1), 19–30.Google Scholar
  36. Tomyn, A. J. (2013). Youth connections subjective well-being report. Part A: Report 4.0.. Australia: RMIT University.Google Scholar
  37. Viñas, F., González, M., García, Y., Malo, S., & Casas, F. (2015). Los estilos y estrategias de afrontamiento y su relación con el bienestar personal en una muestra de adolescentes. Anales de Psicología, 31(1), 226–233.Google Scholar
  38. Wade, J., Biehal, N., Farrelly, N., & Sinclair, I. (2011). Caring for abused and neglected children. Making the right decisions for reunification or long-term care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ERIDIQV. Institut de Recerca i Qualitat de Vida (IRQV)Universitat de GironaGironaSpain
  2. 2.Direcció General d’Atenció a la Infància i l’Adolescència (DGAIA), Departament de Treball, Afers socials i FamíliesGeneralitat de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations