The placement movements of 235 children entering foster care over a 12-month period were followed up 4 months after referral into care. Baseline and follow-up measures of the 170 children who were still in care at follow-up were also compared. Results indicated that adolescents with mental health or behavioural problems were the least likely to achieve placement stability or to display improved psychological adjustment in care. In fact, unsatisfactory transition to foster care was found to be so prevalent among these children that conventional foster family care should be considered unsuitable for them. The paper concludes that there is an urgent need for a wider range of alternative care options for the adolescent population.