Foster Parenthood

Foster Parenthood: A Role Analysis

DAVID FANSHEL
Copyright Date: 1966
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv696
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  • Book Info
    Foster Parenthood
    Book Description:

    Foster Parenthood was first published in 1966. Although many thousands of children in the United States live in foster family homes supervised by public or private agencies, surprisingly little attention has been focused on the men and women who serve as foster parents. This book will help to fill the gaps in our understanding of foster parents and consequently it will, it is hoped, aid in efforts to improve the administration of foster home care. Professor Fanshel inquires into the motivations of a group of foster parents and identifies psychological and sociocultural factors related to role performance. The study is based on research in depth with 101 foster families on the roster of a social agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Data were obtained through interviews with foster mothers and fathers, administration of a parental attitude questionnaire, and ratings by caseworkers of the role performance of the foster parents. The findings of the study provide a prospectus for the guidance of child welfare workers concerned with foster home care. The book also points up the need for further research on the problems studied. In a foreword, Perry B. Hall of the National Study Service writes: “We hope that this study may stimulate other agencies to carry out similar studies and to publish their findings since all of the child welfare field with benefit therefrom.” The book will be useful not only to social workers in the field of child welfare but to social scientists who are students of role analysis and to child development specialists interested in the study of parent behavior.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6232-6
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  3. 1 BACKGROUND FOR THE RESEARCH
    (pp. 3-9)

    Today at any one time there are about 190,000 children in the United States living in foster family homes supervised by public or voluntary agencies. A half century ago most youngsters who for one reason or another could not be reared in their own homes lived in large, regimented “orphan asylums.” There are still, on any given day, some 105,000 children on the rolls of institutions for dependent and neglected children.* But in recent years foster family living has clearly been the more prevalent way of caring for these disadvantaged children. As a publication of the Child Welfare League of...

  4. 2 SOME THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES
    (pp. 10-16)

    IT is the purpose of this chapter to set forth for the reader some of the “armchair” theorizing that preceded the actual gathering of data. Prior theorizing about “what makes foster parents tick” had to be cast in a rather fluid mold, since no tightly organized theoretical framework had emerged from the literature. But although any theoretical formulations would have to be tentative, it seemed useful to begin by exploring a few as guides to empirical research. The approach was interdisciplinary: it was deemed desirable to consider any potentially useful concepts whether they came from social work practice or from...

  5. 3 THE PLAN OF THE STUDY
    (pp. 17-20)

    The agency at which this study of foster parents was conducted, the Family and Childrens Service, is the largest nonsectarian casework agency in the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County area of western Pennsylvania. It maintains offices in the center of Pittsburgh and hi several surrounding communities. The agency was created by a merger of three agencies, one family and two child welfare organizations, hi 1949. It provides general casework services to individuals and families, adoption services, homemaker services, and services to the aged as well as foster family placement for children. The professional staff at the time of the study comprised 60 graduates...

  6. 4 INTERVIEWS WITH FOSTER MOTHERS
    (pp. 21-44)

    Despite the length of the interview used and its potentially stressful nature, most of the 101 foster mothers who took part in the study appeared to be very cooperative. There were a number of questions that seemed to cause blocking or other kinds of defensive behavior, but the over-all impression gained in the course of the project was that the foster mothers were as straightforward as could be expected for a group who had both a fairly low level of educational achievement and no prior exposure to research procedures of this sort.

    It is not possible to present in full...

  7. 5 INTERVIEWS WITH FOSTER FATHERS
    (pp. 45-58)

    Mention already has been made of the fact that much of the professional child welfare literature portrays the typical foster father as a rather retiring, passive person who relies on his more energetic wife for leadership in family affairs. It must be admitted, however, that foster fathers are not particularly well known to most agency caseworkers, and such unflattering characterizations would seem to require more systematic study. Some observers have noted that although they are often described as being passive at home, they are also not infrequently described as adequate performers in the masculine work world. Many of the foster...

  8. 6 DEVELOPMENT OF SCALE AND INDEX SCORES
    (pp. 59-81)

    It is crucial for the advancement of research in the social and behavioral sciences that means be found for developing well-defined operational indicators of concepts and constructs used to describe individuals and groups. The schedules that were utilized in this study in the research interviews with the foster mothers and fathers were constructed with a view toward developing a number of scales that would adequately reflect significant attitudes and role orientations of these subjects. Simply put, the purpose of scale analysis and index construction is to combine attitudinal items into some kind of composite score.

    A number of variables appeared...

  9. 7 CHILD-REARING ATTITUDES OF FOSTER MOTHERS
    (pp. 82-95)

    In the form of the Parental Attitude Research Instrument (PARI) used to assess child-rearing attitudes in this study, each subject was asked to agree or disagree strongly or mildly with each of five statements in 23 scales. Items are cycled so that every twenty-third item relates to the same scale. The respondent is presumably not aware that he is being asked to give his opinion about the same attitudinal dimension on five occasions in the course of filling out the instrument. The normative data were secured from a sample of 100 wives of servicemen at a naval hospital who took...

  10. 8 THE FOSTER PARENT APPRAISAL FORM
    (pp. 96-107)

    The caseworkers of the Family and Childrens Service came into intimate contact with the subjects of this study in their daily supervision of the foster children entrusted to the agency. They were constantly called upon in their professional capacity to make evaluative judgments about the kind of care the foster children were receiving. In addition, decisions often had to be made about new children coming under the agency’s care. An incompatible placement arising out of an incorrect assessment of a foster home’s potential for absorbing a given child could well result in further scars for an already socially handicapped youngster....

  11. 9 CASEWORKERS’ APPRAISAL OF FOSTER PARENTS
    (pp. 108-123)

    This chapter examines the kind of associations that prevailed among the various judgments the caseworkers were required to make in this study. For example: Were families who were rated as stressing social conformity in the behavior of their foster children the same ones who were described as being motivated to become foster parents because of the enjoyment they experienced in controlling and directing others? Were foster parents who were judged to be capable of providing good care to physically handicapped children also rated as being able to accept youngsters with other kinds of problems, e.g., aggressive behavior?

    The results of...

  12. 10 CORRELATIONS OF SELF-REVELATIONS AND RATINGS
    (pp. 124-136)

    In this chapter, an assessment will be made of the relationship that was found to prevail between the factors presented in Chapter 9 and other variables obtained in this research project. If the factors that emerged from the analysis of caseworkers’ ratings of the foster parents correlate significantly and in the hypothesized direction with index and scale scores based upon the direct responses of the subjects themselves, some reliance may be placed on the validity of the caseworkers’ ratings as reported on the FPAF.

    For the purpose of developing factor scores, the ratings made by pairs of caseworkers were pooled*...

  13. 11 INCENTIVES FOR FOSTER PARENTHOOD
    (pp. 137-152)

    Throughout this report, an underlying question of central importance has been: Why do people become foster parents? In the material that follows, motivations and satisfactions, as articulated by the research subjects of this study, will be examined in some detail. In addition, the motives attributed to them by the caseworkers who worked with them and by the research interviewers, themselves caseworkers, will be scrutinized.

    One might ask a number of key questions about the issue of motivations: Do the articulated motives of the subjects correlate with the several measures of role performance used in this study? How do the motives...

  14. 12 FINAL PERSPECTIVES AND IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 153-166)

    One who has been closely associated with a research study like that reported in the earlier chapters of this volume comes to a final assessment of it with mixed feelings. On the one hand, there must be recognition that only the surface has been scratched in the search for an understanding of the dynamics of foster parents as people and as occupants of a complex status position. At the same time there is a sense of optimistic anticipation — surely the intellectual challenge these people pose will be met by increasingly sophisticated research efforts.

    Some of the characteristics that seem to...

  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 169-172)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 173-176)