Foster children have difficult early lives. Their needs are great, their educational performance can be poor, their childhoods in foster care and out of it are often unstable. In their adult lives they are at greater risk than others of a wide variety of difficulties. These 'facts' have led some to conclude that the state is not an adequate parent.
This conclusion, however, ignores two possibilities. First, foster care may be better than the obvious alternative - that is, remaining at home. Second, the lives of fostered children can turn out well. Maybe this could become true for more of them. This review helps to identify what impact foster care has for fostered children and young people with a view to influencing policy and practice.