Foster care and residential care: what factors affect the type of placement of children? An Italian study

Francesca Corradini

When social workers need to place children outside their birth family, the choice between placing them in a foster family or in residential care is crucial. There are many factors that influence the decision for one option over another. This study takes into account figures collected by the Child Protection Services related to 8,438 out-of-home children in a northern Italian region. Four types of placement are taken into account (full-time foster care, part-time foster care, full-time residential services and day care centre). Through bivariate analysis, subsequently verified by means of simple linear regression models, each type of placement has been cross-checked with the variables relating to socio-demographic characteristics of children (gender, age and nationality), prevailing problems of children and prevailing problems of the families, to identify significant correlations. The article reports the results of the analysis and the possible implications of the findings for the professional practice of social workers.


Foster care – Residential care – Types of placements – Children prevailing problems – Families prevailing problems.