Theses Doctoral

What is the experience of foster care mothers?

Marti, Yamile M.

Foster care parents are key members of the foster care system and have an immense responsibility to provide a new home, and a healthy, clean and nurturing environment for children who have been removed from their own homes. Several studies have been conducted that discuss the risks and protective factors of foster care children, parenting skills and training, as well as retention strategies. However, only a few studies focus on the experience of foster care parents, specifically mothers, and what prompts them to take care of this defenseless population. A qualitative phenomenological study of 30 foster care mothers served by Episcopal Social Services of New York City was conducted to attempt to understand the unique experience of this group by identifying sources of support, family environment, experiences, satisfaction and cultural socio-environmental factors that have an impact on their role. This research included a first qualitative phenomenological study interviewing fifteen non-kinship foster mothers and a second qualitative phenomenological study interviewing fifteen kinship foster care mothers about their experiences. The interview questions and themes of these two studies are informed by an ecological systems framework. A caregiver stress and coping model, as well as role theory, were applied to understand foster mothers' and their view of their role versus the reality of what they experience, taking into consideration the influence of their non-kinship or kinship status. Among this group of foster care mothers, 20 foster care mothers identified as Latina encompassing the sub sample that was analyzed for the third study. The aim of this study was to understand how culture manifests among Latina foster care mothers. The research evaluates the role of empowerment theory and cultural constructs for this subgroup of Latina foster care mothers, and how both can be integrated into practice within the foster care system. The knowledge of the experience, challenges and views of foster care mothers elucidate important information for the provision of services and aid in the recommendation of interventions and future research for this population. Additionally, this research leads to suggestions to enhance recruitment and retention strategies within the foster care system. By studying foster care mothers, the researcher addresses an important gap in the literature and enhances current understanding of this population.

Geographic Areas



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Lukens, Ellen P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 20, 2013