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Foster family resources, psychosocial functioning, and retention

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Abstract

The chronic shortage of foster families is exacerbated by the fact that many families discontinue during the first year. This longitudinal study examined the effect of family resources and psychosocial problems on retention. Almost 50 percent of families who started preservice training did not complete it. Of the 131 families who completed training, 46 percent had already discontinued or planned to discontinue at six-months. Families with more resources, especially income, were more likely to continue. African American and single-parent families were less likely to continue, but not when controlling for income. Families with more psychosocial problems and fewer resources were more likely to express uncertainty about continuing. These results have important implications for recruitment and retention of foster families.
... Foster parents are frontline workers in the foster care system, and multiple studies demonstrate that foster parents experience a number of systemic challenges and stressors within their role as a foster parent (Adams, Hassett, & Lumsden, 2018). Such stressors have been associated with risks to foster child development, biological and foster family dysfunction, and the desire to discontinue fostering (Buehler, Cox, & Cuddeback, 2003;Cole & Eamon, 2007;Holland & Gorey, 2004;Rhodes, Orme, Cox, & Buehler, 2003). Because of the level of challenges associated with fostering, research examining how foster parents approach the fostering role, particularly how foster parents work together, could provide important information regarding the needs and resources of foster families. ...
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Coparenting is well established as important for parental, child, and family outcomes among those who are not involved in the child welfare system; however, limited research has examined coparenting among foster parents. This study examined how foster parents worked together to parent foster children, how they described their roles and involvement with their foster children, how fostering impacted their coparenting and couple relationship, and their experiences and needs of working together with and within the foster care system. Ten foster parents couples from different locations across the United States were recruited using a non-random purposive sample. Grounded theory analysis led to the generation of four overarching themes: (a) foster parent roles; (b) the conditions and challenges of foster parenting; (c) adjustment as a coparental team; and (d) individual and family functioning within the foster home. Results highlight that the coparental relationship was not overtly recognized as a foremost concern of foster parents; however, participants described the coparental relationship as a system that was crucial for making adjustments to the challenges and conditions of fostering while providing a stable environment for children. Implications for future research on factors associated with coparenting among foster parents and the need to enhance support to foster parents are discussed.
... The quality of this relationship has been linked with parental participation in child welfare services and retention (Sprague-Jones et al., 2020). Foster parents are more likely to commit to a placement when they have responsive communication with their child welfare agency (Rhodes et al., 2003). Although foster parents acknowledge that the child welfare system and its workers are often overwhelmed, they highlight the importance of working with child welfare workers who are continually responsive and consistently provide concrete and emotional support when needed (Geiger et al., 2017). ...
Article
Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental effects on almost everyone worldwide, but one particularly vulnerable group are resource parents (foster and kinship) and the young people in out-of-home care. Resource parents have experienced the same increases in pandemic-related stressors as other parents but have the added challenge of caring for a young person involved with child welfare. There are, however, various possible protective factors that have been found to positively influence families during times of stress. Methods: We examined how internal (family functioning/resilience and emotion regulation) and external (parent/child welfare worker relationship and social supports) resource parent protective factors are related to the degree of perceived stressors experienced due to the pandemic. A sample of 47 resource parents from the province of Ontario (Canada) caring for a young person between 4 and 17 years old completed an online questionnaire. Results: Multiple regression analyses showed that a higher quality relationship between resource parents and child welfare workers was associated with lower perceived pandemic-related stressors. Higher parent emotion regulation was also found to be associated with a significant decrease in resource parents’ perceived stressors. Conclusion: Overall, resource parents experienced an increase in pandemic-related stressors. However, both internal and external protective factors could be associated with a decrease in experienced stressors. Impact: This study used a strengths-based approach and showed the importance of a positive resource parent and child welfare worker relationship as well as effective parental emotion regulation strategies during times of stress.
... As reliance on congregate care facilities continues to decrease, considerable effort will be needed to recruit foster families willing to absorb thousands of older children and adolescents in need of safe, stable, and supportive placements. Unfortunately, the recruitment and retention of families willing to foster in the United States has been a longstanding challenge (Hudson & Levasseur, 2002;Rhodes, Orme, Cox, & Buehler, 2003;Sullivan, Gibbs & Wildfire, 2007). Recent trends in the number of available foster families point to a decrease in the availability of families willing to foster any child, let alone high needs adolescents who can often be the most difficult to place. ...
Article
Congregate care settings are to be used as a last resort for the placement of abused and neglected children. In the current study we identify specific child protective service experiences and mental and behavioral health characteristics that are predictive of moving from a family based foster placement to a congregate care placement. Administrative child protective service (CPS) records were used to define a population-based cohort of youth aged 12–14 years who entered into a family-based setting in California in 2012. These youth were then longitudinally followed through the duration of their placement episode to determine the proportion of youth who entered into congregate care. A Cox Proportional Hazard model was used to model correlates of transitions from the initial family-based setting into a congregate care setting. Approximately 17% of youth who started a placement in a family-based setting entered congregate care prior to the end of their foster care episode. Results from the Cox Proportional Hazard analysis found that older age, Black ethnicity/race, emotional health concerns, behavioral problems, ADHD/ADD and a history of psychiatric hospitalizations were predictive of movement into a congregate care placement. Results also indicate that youth who started their foster care episode in a non-kin placement moved into congregate care at 1.7 times the rate of youth who started their episode in a kin placement. Recent federal and state policy changes have decreased the availability of congregate care placements. Data from the current study highlight the importance of investments that (1) increase the number foster parents willing and trained to foster high risk adolescents, and (2) develop evidence-informed interventions to treat foster youth and support their foster families in an effort to maintain placement in lower levels of care.
Article
Children in foster care are more likely to exhibit emotional, behavioral, social, and developmental problems. Accordingly, foster families should provide them with a safe family environment that promotes their development. Therefore, to ensure that foster families adequately meet children's needs, it is crucial for youth protection services to properly assess prospective foster family applicants. However, the specific assessment methods are understudied. This study aims to capture the experiences of caseworkers and the challenges they face in assessing and selecting potential foster caregivers, as well as their needs for support to perform the assessments. Focus groups were held in child protection services agencies in the province of Québec (Canada). Three group interviews with a total of 15 caseworkers were transcribed and subjected to content analysis using NVivo 11. The caseworkers identified nine most important dimensions for assessing prospective foster families, notably motivation and engagement. Differences in the assessment process between caseworkers were observed, particularly for the type of foster family assessed. The caseworkers reported certain common needs for assessment training, primarily in interview techniques and the handling of multicultural issues. They also complained of lack of time allocated for clinical support during assessments. The results call for collaborative efforts between researchers and practitioners to provide appropriate training and tools to support the assessment process.
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Background: Compared to residential care, family foster care is the preferable type of alternative care for neglected or abused children as it provides a familiar context that supports children’s developmental needs. New foster families are needed to care for these children. Objective: This systematic review aims to provide a critical analysis of the literature, identifying factors that explain the intention to become and to continue as a foster family. This review was performed following the PRISMA checklist and guidelines, through a search conducted in the following databases (no restrictions were made): PsycArticles, PsycInfo, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, Academic Search Complete, ERIC, Scopus, and Web of Science. Study eligibility: The review includes empirical quantitative and/or qualitative studies in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, with community and/or foster parents’ samples and explores the factors for becoming and/or retention of foster parents. Results: Forty-nine studies were included. The results revealed that the intention to become a foster parent is largely influenced by motivational factors, personal and family characteristics, individual values and beliefs, social context influences, and perceived familiarity with the child protection system. The retention of foster families is closely related to factors within the child protection system, personal or family characteristics, foster child characteristics, and placement challenges. The relationship with agencies and professional support stands out as the most important factors. Limitations and Implications: This review did not include studies focused on children with specific needs and characteristics, and future research should consider the particular challenges of fostering this group. Practice implications of these findings for the recruitment, selection, and retention of foster families will be discussed.
Article
This study utilized the PRISMA protocol to conduct a systematic review of the literature published in the United States from 1989 to 2018 to identify factors that affect foster parent retention. Foster parent perception of their own limitations within the child welfare system, the child welfare system’s ability to function fluidly, and the foster parents’ relationship with the agency affects retention. In addition, the lack of material resources or inadequacy of funding to cover the cost of services for the child was identified as a barrier to retention. Personal attributes such as flexibility, confidence, and motivation contributed to the caregiver retention as did attending pre-service and in-service training, and having peer support from an experienced foster parent.
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This qualitative study explored the wisdom and expertise of 19 foster parents who averaged 20 years of fostering experience to learn their most formidable challenges while interacting with the child welfare system as well as sources of support. Phenomenological methods revealed patterns in foster parents’ shared experiences. Findings revealed two significant stressors linked to decision-making: 1) feeling disempowered and undervalued by child protection workers, and 2) coping with false allegations and the investigation process. System-level configuration of roles and power placed stakeholders in an adversarial rather than collaborative position. Their licensing social workers and other long-term foster parents were the strongest sources of support. Findings suggest that stressors may be alleviated with an inclusive and collaborative approach toward decision-making about child placement decisions, recurring trainings on the allegation process, assigning a support social worker during investigations, and cultivating an ongoing supportive community among foster parents.
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Placement stability and permanency are key goals for children in foster and adoptive care. This study is a systematic review of the scholarly literature to better understand caregiver-related factors (e.g., characteristics, proficiencies) that contribute to permanency and placement stability, in order to provide a stronger foundation for developing and improving caregiver recruitment and training procedures. Our review of 29 qualifying scholarly articles revealed 16 caregiver-related factors associated with permanency and/or placement stability. This knowledge can assist in selecting resource families and guiding training development to increase caregiver proficiency in caring for foster and adoptive children.
Chapter
Willingness to parent other people’s children is one of our better human qualities. During 1982, in the United States, at least 425,000 children and adolescents lived in foster homes under public supervision (Edna Mc-Connell Clark Foundation, 1985). Providing foster parenting to young people whose family relationships have been disrupted is a demanding task that will not appeal to every family. Nevertheless, for certain individuals, being a foster parent is uniquely rewarding.
Article
For the past several decades, most sociologial research on marital power relations has employed 'resource theory' as a primary source of hypotheses and as a means of organizing and summarizing empirical knowledge. The central premise of resource theory is that, within the marital relationship, each spouse's decision-making power varies directly with the amount and value of the resources which that spouse provides to the marriage or to the other spouse. A final qualification is necessary at this point. We are suggesting that resource theory is more general than Rodman and others (Scanzoni, 1979) have argued, not that it is more powerful. The great majority of the variation in conjugal power structures remains unexplained by resource variables, at least insofar as our measurement strategies are capable of ascertaining. We clearly need improvements in the conceptualization and measurment of resources, as well as power itself. However, we must also actively pursue the possibility that other theoretical strategies may be required for a more complete explanation and understanding of conjugal power.
Chapter
In relationships with others, negative behaviors (criticism, sarcasm, belittling the other) appear to have more impact on morale and satisfaction with the relationship than do positive behaviors (encouragement, comfort, assistance). For example, among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, helpfulness of network members was unrelated to distress, but negative or disruptive behaviors by network members were significantly predictive of distress (Fiore, Becker, & Coppel, 1983; Keicolt-Glaser, Dyer, & Shuttleworth, 1988). A similar pattern of results was found among widows (Rook, 1984) and pregnant adolescents (Barrera, 1981). Within the marital relationship, when controlling for frequency of negative spouse behaviors, spouse supportiveness was not significantly related to depression among husbands (Schuster, Kessler, & Aseltine, 1990), although both negative and supportive spouse behaviors were significant predictors of depressive symptoms among wives in this study and in a study of women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Manne & Zautra, 1989). Vinokur and van Ryn (1993) found that perceived support from the spouse did not predict depressive symptoms beyond the variance explained by spousal criticism and other negative behaviors.