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Keywords:

  • disability;
  • family life;
  • out-of-home placement

Background  This study explored the relationship between family life variables and out-of-home placement tendency for families of school-age children with disabilities and high support needs.

Method  This study was a prospective cohort study of 81 families with children with disabilities and high support needs aged between 6 and 13 years. There were two waves of data collection 12–18 months apart involving in-depth interviews with the primary carer.

Results  Out-of-home placement tendency was associated with three interrelated family life variables: (i) difficulty balancing the demands of caring and the needs of other family members; (ii) sharing workload and responsibility; and (iii) integrating the child into the everyday world.

Conclusion  Family capacity to continue balancing the demands of caring and the needs of other family members is central to maintaining family-based placement.