Every year, the social services assume the care of more than 10,000 children and adolescents, who for various reasons are not able to live at home. In 2018, for instance, 39,000 children and adolescents lived in foster families or at various types of homes. Previous research shows that these children constitute a risk group in terms of poorer health, abuse and developing drug addiction. Additionally, they have worse prospects at school and on the labour market.
Rikard Tordön’s experiences as a psychologist spurred him to make his own contribution to the research into children in state and municipal care.
“When I worked as a psychologist in the foster care sector, I discovered that it is guided by values and political decisions, not by knowledge. I saw a lack of research about what actually works. My thesis shows that initiatives in school can help the children perform better. And these initiatives must be implemented”, says Rikard Tordön, psychologist and new PhD at Linköping University’s Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences. His previous roles include national coordinator for Skolfam, a programme aimed at increasing the school results of children in foster care.
More vulnerable and less trust in adults
Rikard Tordön’s doctoral thesis consists of four studies, published in different scientific journals.
The first study confirms that abuse and mental illness are more common among final-year upper secondary pupils in out-of-home care (OHC). It also found that these children, compared to their non-OHC peers, are less inclined to disclose abuse, in particular to police and social services.