Retaining foster parents: factors influencing retention and attrition

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University of Alabama Libraries

The objective of this study was to uncover factors that contributed to the decision to continue or stop foster parenting from a social exchange theory perspective. The study sample consisted of 53 former foster parents and 101 current foster parents. Participants completed a survey designed to examine how four variables--quality and availability of services to support foster care provision, respect and recognition given by caseworkers, financial assistance and work benefits, and crisis response of caseworkers--related to foster parents' decisions to continue or give up fostering. The first research hypothesis was that high or low satisfaction for these variables would predict those who continued to foster and those who had quit, respectively. Logistic regression analysis did not support this hypothesis. Further examination of those participants who had stopped fostering identified an over-representation of those who had fostered in order to adopt, a problem for the study since this group may not have set out to foster long term. Those participants were selected out and further analyses were conducted comparing mean scores of those who quit (and presumably were not fostering to adopt) and those still fostering. This further analysis also failed to support the hypothesis. The second hypothesis was that those who were still fostering and who indicated a commitment to continue would evidence higher satisfaction on the four variables. A within-group analysis employing simple regression supported a directional relationship between commitment to continue and all variables, except perceived satisfaction with financial assistance and work benefits. The report concludes with a discussion and possible explanations for the findings and potential policy implications.

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Social work, Sociology, Individual and Family Studies, Psychology, General