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Using Private Families in Public Care. The Impact of Fostering on Foster Parents and Their Children

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Ingrid Höjer
Publicerad i Konferensen "Social Work 2007" Parma
Publiceringsår 2007
Publicerad vid Institutionen för socialt arbete
Språk en
Ämnesord Foster families, foster carers, biological children, public care
Ämneskategorier Familjeforskning

Sammanfattning

USING PRIVATE FAMILIES IN PUBLIC CARE - THE IMPACT OF FOSTERING ON FOSTER PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN In Sweden, about 75 per cent of all children and young people placed in care by the social services, are placed in foster families. Foster families are “ordinary” Swedish families, who open their homes for children in need. Children and young people placed in care have often experienced abuse, violence and care deficits. Thus, the public task of giving good care to children with difficult experiences is given to a private family. What happens when a private family is transformed into a place for public care-giving? How does such a transformation affect the private sphere and the social interactions within the foster family? At the university of Gothenburg, Department of Social Work, two recent studies, The inner life of the foster family (1997 – 2001) and Growing up with foster siblings (2001 – 2005), focus on the members of the foster family and the impact fostering has on their lives. 366 foster carers (192 women and 174 men) answered a questionnaire and the wife and husband in 17 foster families were interviewed. Children and young people participated in focus groups (17) and discussion groups (19), and 684 answered a questionnaire. Eight were interviewed in-depth. Results from the studies show that women mainly initiated fostering, but men eventually became equally engaged. Fostering made men and women engaged in a teamwork. This partnership seemed to increase the closeness between the couple. Both male and female carers were committed to the fostering task, which at times made it hard for them to combine foster care with parental engagement for their own children. Biological children had less access to parental time and attention, as the problems of their foster siblings had to be the first priority for their parents. Sons and daughters of foster carers were highly involved in the fostering assignment, but were also exposed to problematic behaviour from foster siblings, like acting out, drug abuse and depression. Fostering also gave sons and daughters of foster carers an insight in a deficient parenthood, which at times could be difficult to accept.

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