Abstract: This article examines the long term if uneven trend towards professionalisation in foster care, within the contexts of theoretical debates on professionalisation and contemporary policy in relation to looked after children. While the professionalising trend has been driven by a number of powerful factors within foster care and by broader societal and policy developments, it remains contentious due to the hybrid nature of foster care straddling the domains of ‘family’ and ‘work’. Various aspects of hybridity are explored including its implications for motivation, training and differentiation among foster carers. While broadly supporting the professionalisation of foster carers, not least as a measure to tackle their exploitation and its gendered nature, it is argued that hybridity requires a delicate balance to be struck and maintained in order that further professionalising measures do not undermine the personal and familial aspects of foster care that are crucial to its success
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