The mobility of young people within the care system has been a cause for concern for many years. It has often been associated with a number of negative features in the lives of young people during their time in public care but also well into their adulthood. These include low educational achievements, drug and alcohol misuse,teenage pregnancy and social exclusion. However, little seems to be known about the causal relations between such features and care placement endings.\ud A large body of research has been published on the matter of placement endings but it has often concentrated on isolated aspects of the service provided or on characteristics specific to young people. The project aimed at getting a better\ud understanding of the way successive placement endings occur throughout the care\ud career of individual children. A lifelong approach was chosen in order to reflect the\ud premise that young people looked after are engaged in a dynamic process of adaptation to life in substitute care but also to life after trauma.\ud A sample of 43 case files of young people who had been looked after in two local\ud authorities was analysed with a mixed approach including both qualitative and\ud quantitative methods. Three ideal types of care careers were identified and used as a base on which to create a causal model of placement ending. This model encompasses variables related to children’s early parenting experience, to their experience of trauma and to the placement context. The model reflects the dynamic nature of the relation between these three sets of variable
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