Diagnostic Home

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diagnostic home

Temporary home in which a child is placed pending determination of whether he or she should reside in a foster home, which will help the social worker reunite the child with the birthparents, or a legal risk home (see AT RISK PLACEMENT), which is likely to adopt the child if and when parental rights are terminated.

According to author Ann Hartman, there are certain problems involved in placing a child in a diagnostic home. "A temporary placement in a 'diagnostic home' entails an additional move for the child. Moreover, such a plan suggests that the worker can make a determination in the space of sixty days or less concerning whether the goal is adoption or return home. However, some believe that such a prejudgment, early in a situation and before a legal determination is made, may have the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy."


Ann Hartman, "Practice in Adoption," in A Handbook of Child Welfare: Context, Knowledge and Practice (New York: Free Press, 1985).

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