Family factors influencing out-of-home placement decisions

Gwynnyth Llewellyn*, P. Dunn, M. Fante, L. Turnbull, R. Grace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Flying in the face of national community care policies, families of young children with severe disabilities continue to seek out-of-home placement. The present paper explores the factors which influence families to care for their children at home or to place them out-of-home. Data for the present study were derived from a qualitative in-depth study of the everyday family life experiences of 167 families of young children with a disability and high support needs. One hundred and twenty-five (75%) of these families definitely did not want to place their child, 32 (19%) were undecided, and 10 (6%) were actively seeking or had already sought placement. Coded interview data were subjected to exploratory factor analysis to reveal eight factors influencing everyday family life. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant differences between the three groups of families on three out of the eight factors. The families' views about placing their child were compared across the three groups using text analysis techniques. Without exception, the primary desire of all families was to care for their child at home. However, when placement was considered a possibility, even if remote, the most frequently reported reasons were family 'survival' and mitigating circumstances. The finding that one-quarter of the families had already sought or were considering placement for children in this young age range is provocative. The implications of the findings for policy and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-233
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Family factors
  • Multiple disability
  • Out-of-home placement


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