Children placed in out-of-home care face elevated risk of problematic outcomes in adulthood, according to a joint Finnish-UK study.
The study, carried out by researchers from the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland and Oxford University, was unusually broad and included all children born in Finland between the years of 1986-2000.
During that time, out of roughly 890,000 kids, about 30,000 children were placed in out-of-home care
The study found that for those children there was a 1.4 to 5-fold increase in risk of adverse social and health outcomes in adulthood, compared with siblings who were never placed in care.
Among other factors, the researchers examined issues such as mental illness, lack of social and financial skills, a tendency to become victims of violence, criminality, self-destructive traits and mortality.
Placement often only answer
As kids who were placed in care outside their homes approached adulthood, their life situations worsened on all levels that were examined, according to the research.
Additionally, the children who were placed in out-of-home care, that had siblings, fared worse than their brothers and sisters who were not placed outside the home.
"There is a great concern about the quality of child protective services. It is important that out-of-home care practices are developed and investments are made to prevent out-of-home placements in general," University of Helsinki Professor Heikki Hiilamo said in a statement.
However, most of the time, out-of-home placements are the only option to secure a child's environments, Hiilamo said, adding that such care is very helpful in cases where the parents are abusing or completely neglecting their children.
The study, Long-term Health and Social Outcomes in Children and Adolescents Placed in Out-of-Home Care, was published late last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network.