The All4Children project to assess the initial implementation of the Integrated Model of Family Foster Care in Portugal: a description of the study protocol

Joana Baptista*, Helena Grangeia, Mariana Negrão, Cláudia Camilo, Sandra Ornelas, Sandra Nogueira, Isabel Pastor, Ana Gaspar, Isabel Soares, Stephanie Alves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: The All4Children project addresses the urgent need to transition from institutionalization to family-based care for out-of-home children in Portugal. Despite evidence highlighting the detrimental effects of institutionalization, only a small percentage of children (less than 4%) are currently placed in family foster care in the country. In response to European directives for deinstitutionalization, Portuguese legislation now prioritizes non-kinship family foster care as the preferred alternative for young children in need of care. To facilitate this transition, the Integrated Model of Family Foster Care (MIAF) was developed, offering a comprehensive framework covering the entire spectrum of family foster care. Objective: This research aims to investigate the initial implementation stage of the MIAF to promote high-quality family foster care in Portugal. Method: The study will conduct a mixed-method and longitudinal research project in family foster care agencies across different regions of Portugal, focusing on evaluating the implementation and outcomes of the MIAF model using a multi-informant and multi-method approach. The participants will include caseworkers, children aged 0–9 years entering foster care, and their respective foster families enrolled in the MIAF program. Process evaluation will assess fidelity, feasibility, appropriateness, and acceptability of MIAF modules, while outcome evaluation will examine child safety, stability, well-being, as well as foster family well-being and quality of relational care. Outcomes: The insights gained from this research initiative will serve as a foundation for the ongoing enhancement of MIAF. Consequently, this project has the capacity to advance evidence-based child welfare practices by refining processes and strategies to better serve vulnerable children and youth. Conclusion: Facilitated by a multidisciplinary team, this project will contribute to advancing research in the field, enhancing practice, and informing policy during a pivotal stage of deinstitutionalization in Portugal.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0304244
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS one
Volume19
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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