Family foster care in Queensland – an exploration of carer characteristics and child outcomes

Melissa Russell (). Family foster care in Queensland – an exploration of carer characteristics and child outcomes Professional Doctorate, Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Melissa Russell
Thesis Title Family foster care in Queensland – an exploration of carer characteristics and child outcomes
School, Centre or Institute Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Paul Harnett
Total pages 96
Total colour pages 1
Total black and white pages 95
Language eng
Abstract/Summary Abstract. Objective: The aims of the present research were threefold. Firstly, to investigate the relationship between the early care-giving experiences of children known to have been physically abused and neglected and their social, emotional and behavioural functioning; secondly, to investigate the psychological functioning of relative and non-relative carers and the children in their care; and thirdly, to assess the impact of carer attachment style on child outcomes. Method: The study involved a prospective between groups repeated measures design to investigate the differences in the functioning of children in foster and relative care; differences in the characteristics of foster and relative carers themselves; and the role of carer attachment style on the outcomes of children in out of home care. Data collection was conducted at time one (baseline) and time two (approximately 12 months). Initial measures were obtained from the children’s case files and standardised self-report measures were administered to the children’s carers at baseline and time two. There were a total of 139 parent-child dyads in the study comprised of 72 non-relative foster carers and 67 relative foster carers. Of these carers, 81 (47 non-relative and 34 relative carers) participated in the follow-up assessment at 12 months. The mean age of the non-relative carers was 47.7 years (SD = 9.16 years) and relative carers 56.0 years (SD = 8.47 years). A total of 184 children were included in the study (as some carers were caring for more than one foster child) with an age range from 4.12 years to 13.58 years (M = 7.77 years, SD = 3.33 years) with 97 females (52.7%) and 86 males (46.7%). Results: Children with a history of physical abuse were found to have more externalising problems than children who had not been physically abused, however contrary to expectations, children with a history of neglect were not found to have more internalising problems than those with no history of neglect. For the second aim, significant differences were found to exist in the behavioural, emotional and social functioning of children living in relative care compared to those living in non-relative care with children living with relative carers found to be functioning better than those living with non-relative carers. Non-relative foster carers were found to report greater difficulties than relative caregivers in their caring role. For the final aim, contrary to expectations, attachment style was found to not be a predictor of how children fared in their placement. Conclusion: The results of this research has implications for the recruitment, training, screening and support of foster carers and contribute to the understanding of the processes involved in the social and emotional adjustment of children in foster care. Further research is required to increase our understanding and awareness of the individual characteristics that define good quality foster carers, and the effects these characteristics have on the psychosocial functioning of foster children in their care. Improving the developmental outcomes of children in care will hopefully help to reduce the intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect and thus promote the mental health of the nation.
Keyword Foster care
Foster care in Queensland

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Created: Fri, 25 Nov 2011, 15:18:45 EST by Melissa Russell on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences