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Rodrigo Diaz, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Rodrigo Diaz

Dissertation Committee

  • Salvador Treviño, Ph.D., Dissertation Chair
  • Denise Mock, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Jody Kussin, Ph.D., External Expert

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

The number of children entering foster care has increased significantly in recent years, leading some to categorize the foster system as being in a state of crisis. More foster parents are needed, as are better retention methods. It is pertinent to understand the experiences that foster parents have that affect their decision to continue or cease fostering. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to understand the needs of foster parents based on their experiences and perceptions. The overarching research question sought to determine the lived experiences of foster parents who were navigating through, or taking part in, the foster system. Seven foster parents living in California, who had been fostering for at least six months and who had had a child in their home participated in the study. Data was collected via one-on-one interviews using open-ended questions. Responses were analyzed and revealed four themes: 1) parents decide to foster for a variety of reasons, the most common being altruistic purposes and the awareness of the need for good foster parents; 2) parents find fostering to be a life-enhancing experience; 3) fostering involves significant challenges, the most common being handling a child who had been through traumatic experiences prior to being in the foster care system; and 4) parents felt strongly motivated to continue fostering. The findings from the current study aligned with previous literature regarding the overall positive feelings associated with fostering, and the descriptions of challenges faced by foster parents. The experience of being a foster parent could be improved if the foster care system underwent internal changes to lighten the burden for social workers so they can better respond to foster parents. This Dissertation is available in Open Access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, http://aura.antioch.edu and OhioLink ETD Center, http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd

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ORCID: 0000-0002-8738-3707

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