I-Definitions From a common point of view, the practice of family placement is considered as a mode of temporary educative housing when the keeping in the family called “natural” is not possible any more for reasons of moral, physical, psychic protection (Art 375 of the Civil Code). This definition entails with her a conception and a practice of children “placed in foster families” without any institutional reference to a project of service. It carries in its wake the popular idea which fills up the imaginary of the media, the one of replacement of a bad family by a good one. From the theorisation made by Myriam David an other definition, which is far from being vulgarized, defines the family placement as a therapeutic tool as: “In most of the cases, we notice the existence of early disturbances of link which have an impact on all the fields of the life of a child and in the unfolding of the fostering.” (David: Foster care: a system of care)
The FC must ensures the simultaneous “holding” of the relationship between parents and child and the affective engagement between the child and the foster family. The family placement must thus be designed with a therapeutic aim and considered as offering the possibility to replay differently the mode of the first link on another familial scene to attempt to make that link evolve or at least to limit its negative effects. According to this perspective, FC is not any longer about procuring a parental substitute to a child but a “curing/caring”, stable and meaningful relationship which takes into account the suffering of the separation and the work around the relation to his parents who don’t fulfil their parental role (David p 374). The aim is not to replace the parents but to propose coherent parental functions of replacement*5 ( B.Golse ).
THE NUMBER OF CONCERNED CHILDREN. France numbers 60 millions inhabitants. Today about 105.000 children and adolescents are placed by judiciary measure (residential homes and family placement). 60.000 children (58%) are placed in foster families, the others in residential homes (42%). Out of these 60.000 children, we estimate that the public services have the responsibility of 35.000 of them-FC- the private services (NGO) habilitated and financed by the Local governments of 18.000 of them, specialised services have the responsibility of 6000 children–SFC- ( 1000 of which with specialised schooling) and the therapeutic hospital services of family placement of 1000 of them. (TFC) The child in danger or at risk is reported to (or by) the Local Government to the public’s prosecutor department which refers to a judge for children. The judge for children, if he is led to order a placement, takes hold of the signalled case by pronouncing a measure of Educative Assistance (according to the art.375 and following the Civil Code). Most of the time (95%), he delegates the execution of the separation under the form of guardianship at the Youth welfare service(ASE). The judge for children represents a jurisdiction independent from the regional Council. The Youth Welfare service e(YWS) can then guide the child to its own internal services or to the associative sector(NPO).The associative sector (associations law 1901 non profit organisation) is habilitated and funded by the Local governments. So there is a link of financial dependence but also a form of political subordination more or less strong of the associations with regard to this or that Local government.
The children's judges The Social security in the childhood The associative sector The route of judiciaries demands ( custody )
Family placement covers in fact very heterogeneous practices and conceptions according to the local governments, the public or private services (law 1901). The status of foster families has considerably evolved in France since thirty years. From receivers of allowances in 1977, they have become paediatric assistant in 1992 reinforced by a specific training (120h) and by the professional recognition by a salary, the participation to the work of a multidisciplinary team and the rights to holidays. Faced with the announced lack of candidates it is in 2005 that the new status makes them familial workers, entering in the category of social workers. This status comes to reinforce the professionalization by a preparatory course to the entry in function of 60 hours, a training (of 240 hours given partly in an educational institution and partly in the workplace) and a national diploma and which at last increases the value of the salary in the same standard over the whole country. (1200 euros net of tax for the taking care of two children). It has to be noticed that the training given partly in an educational institution and partly in the workplace introduces new elements in the contents, such as the complexity of the reference to two families, the disturbances of affection and the work in multidisciplinary team. Family placement at the YWS (public sector) Family placement is mainly used for children the youngest one as known to be less difficult and more malleable. The oldest ones are oriented towards associative services because their problems are perceived as more complex and risky, indeed the children present signs of patent suffering and also for the family placement of adolescent. We can wish that the arrival towards the family placement weren’t still systematically assessed (disturbances of parenting, traumas and suffering of the child) with regard to responses to the needs of the child and that the routes in residential homes or in family placement were not dependent on ….the place found here or there, on the individual initiative of a social worker who disposes of a good address book, of the privileged access to the network or even according to his personal sensitivity. It is often because a situation “is breaking down” in public foster caring placement that they hand over the demand to the associative sector and specially to SFC better structured and equipped for dealing with the complexity linked to family placement of children in suffering.