Understanding Foster Parenting: Using Administrative Data to Explore Retention. Factors Associated with Foster Parent Retention


Three studies represent much of the recent research on foster parent retention. The National Survey of Current and Former Foster Parents, conducted in 1991, used a nationally representative sample to select more than 1,000 current and foster parents for interviews (DHHS, 1989). Data from this survey were the basis for more extensive descriptive analyses by Rhodes and colleagues (Rhodes, Orme and Buehler, 2001). In the second study, researchers at Ohio State University collected data from 539 current and 265 former foster parents in eight urban counties, using logistic regression to identify factors that distinguish ongoing from former foster parents (Rindfleisch, Bean and Denby, 1998) and predict intent to continue foster parenting (Denby, Rindfleisch and Bean, 1999). In addition, a recent assessment by the Office of the Inspector General conducted both interviews with child welfare managers and focus groups with foster parents on issues affecting foster parents (DHHS, Office of the Inspector General [OIG], 2002). These three studies, and other less comprehensive ones, yield fairly consistent findings on factors that influence foster parent retention.

Measures used in these studies include willingness to continue foster parenting, intention to continue or not, and satisfaction with foster parenting, which has been shown to be associated with intention to continue (Denby, Rindfleisch, and Bean, 1999). Determinants of continued foster parenting can be categorized in terms of foster parents'experiences (i.e., interactions with child welfare agencies and with foster children) and their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

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