Qualitative methodology was used to examine the circumstances leading to the realization of the need for out-of-home placement. A series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 5 parents who had made the decision for out-of-home placement. Results indicated that these parents went through a similar process: initial feelings of excitement turn to weariness, first thoughts about the need for additional assistance in caring for their child, realization of the need for out-of-home placement based on minimal social supports, difficulties with services, overwhelming medical care, and mounting financial concerns (“triggering events”); need for approval for the decision; and reflections on the decision. Conclusions and implications for practice, policy, and future research are provided.

The author acknowledges Jeanette McCollum, James Halle, Susan Fowler, Max Redmond, Sara Marsh, and the reviewers for their encouragement and assistance. Thanks are also extended to the parents for sharing their experiences.

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