Support needs of Aboriginal foster parents

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Children and Youth Services Review Volume 32, Issue 12, pp. 1796-1802.

Ivanova, Viktoria
Brown, Jason

Journal article
Canadian CW research

The authors identify that Aboriginal children are overrepresented in the Canadian child welfare system, and that there is an insufficient number of Aboriginal foster parents to meet the demand for placement. This study used the concept mapping process to learn about the needs of Aboriginal foster parents. This method involves (a) posing questions to participants (b) gathering responses and printing them on separate cards (c) asking participants to sort cards into groups (d) analyzing sorted responses using multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis. A randomized list of telephone numbers for all licensed foster parents in a central Canadian province was utilized to contact 83 Aboriginal foster parents, ranging in age from 28 to 72. Twenty-four percent of these parents were providing a kinship placement. Based on the concept mapping process, Aboriginal foster parents reported that they require support from the foster care system, including worker support, respite opportunities, and funds. It was believed by participants that these supports would facilitate rapport building between foster parents and children, and would also allow siblings to remain within one foster household. The participants identified the need for specialist support, housing support, as well as assistance in obtaining recreational resources for family outings and activities. Finally, the Aboriginal foster parents wanted more opportunities for education through sharing, for instance skill- and knowledge-building opportunities, education on foster parent rights, support and knowledge sharing among foster families, and more public awareness of fostering. The authors conclude that more research is necessary in order to develop culturally responsive child welfare policies and practices.

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