Saturday, January 15, 2011: 8:30 AM
Meeting Room 9 (Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
BACKGROUND & PURPOSE: Family foster homes have been increasingly crucial resources for children, but high dropout rates of foster parents and a shortage of family foster homes concern most child welfare agencies (Blumberg et al. 1996; Cox et al., 2002; Chipungu & Bent-Goodley, 2004; Glisson, 1996; Risley-Curtiss et al. 1996; Rhodes et al., 2001). To address this problem, state child welfare agencies must determine the most effective methods for recruiting and retaining qualified foster parents. The objective of this ongoing study is to determine the best methods for training and supporting foster parents to increase their retention. METHODS: The survey design implements two foster parent surveys, one for continuing and one for exiting foster parents. A random sample of continuing and exiting foster parents was used to conduct surveys using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview system from November 2008 to April 2010 with 477 current (n=254) or exiting foster parents (n=223). Response rate that excluded unmade contacts (Dillman, 1977) was 81% for continuing parents and 86% for exiting parents. Questions in both surveys asked how foster parents assessed training, support from the resource worker, support from the child's worker, support from the agency, and the foster parent board rate. The ratings were on a 3 point scale: More than Adequate, Adequate, and Less than Adequate. To assess the effectiveness of the agency, response ratings were on a 4 point scale from Very Effective to Very Ineffective. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to evaluate which factors predicted foster parent's perceptions of the effectiveness of the agency in preparing them for their role, controlling for demographic factors. RESULTS: The regression equation for the continuing foster parents was significant R2 = .38, adjusted R2 = .35. F (10, 193) = 11.91, p < .001. Significant predictors of the effectiveness of the agency in preparing foster parents were training received (‚ = .157 p < .05), support received by the child's worker (‚ =.176, p < .05), support from the agency (‚ = .349 p < .001) and the foster parent board rate (‚ =.146, p < .05). Similarly, the regression equation for exiting foster parents was significant R2 = .30, adjusted R2 = .25. F(10, 134) = 5.74, p < .001. Significant predictors were training received (‚ = .347 p < .001) and support received by the resource worker (‚ =.234, p < .05). CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Results indicate that existing foster parents in this state more often leave because of their perceptions of the training and support received, rather than foster board payments (See Paper 1). In contrast, current foster parents report support by the agency as most important to their preparation for their roles. This study demonstrates how universityĖagency collaborative research can be used to guide foster parent recruitment and retention policies, ultimately impacting the quality of services provided to children in out of home care.