Broady, Timothy; Stoyles, Gerard J.; MacMullan, Kim; Caputi, Peter; and Crittenden, Nadia, 2010, The experiment of foster care, Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(5), 559-571.
We sought to provide a new framework for understanding the training and ongoing support of foster parents. The experiences of authorized foster parents were viewed in the context of an experiment, whereby foster parents entered an out-of-home care placement with preconceived ideas and expectations of what the provision of care would be like. We have investigated the experience of foster care from the perspective of the foster parent who tests expectations of providing care as one might conduct any experiment. Focus group discussion yielded five global domains of foster care experience: birth family, motivation, agency influences, relationship impacts, and attachment. Foster carers commonly described these domains as central to the overall experience of providing foster care. Furthermore, specific experiences within each domain were seen to either encourage or discourage the further provision of foster care. Individual interviews regarding the practical experiences related to these domains uncovered struggles of foster parents who sought to understand their role identity as a "foster parent", and their self identity as a "mother". We discuss implications arising from the experience of these domains of care and their related struggles.