Perceptions of long-term female foster-carers: I'm not a carer, I'm a mother
The need for foster-carers has significantly increased in recent decades as growing numbers of children are in need of out-of-home care. However, despite their importance to the foster-care system, the foster-carer role is imbued with ambiguity. The perceptions and expectations of the foster-carer role differ greatly between child protection workers, the children in foster-care, the wider community and foster-carers themselves. This paper seeks to provide insight and understanding of provision of long-term foster-care from the perspective of the female carer. The findings presented in this paper are drawn from a larger doctoral study that examined women's experiences of providing long-term foster-care in Australia. Analysis revealed participants did not perceive themselves as foster-carers, but rather viewed themselves as mothers to the long-term foster children in their care. This understanding has the potential to: inform both policy and practice in relation to long-term foster-care; provide useful recruitment information; and possibly serve to augment relations between child protection workers and women who provide long-term foster-care.