A qualitative exploration of the drivers for the transfer of foster children from one position of care to another
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This mini-dissertation presents a discussion of the qualitative exploration of the drivers for the transfer of foster children from one position of care to another. Non- probability purposive and quota sampling were used to obtain 20 participants from various parts of the Gauteng Province of South Africa, including Sebokeng, Evaton and Lakeside. These participants were identified and recruited from the database of the Department of Social Development (DSD) because foster care placement is in their domain of practice nationwide. In total, ten foster parents, and ten designated social workers (DSWs) participated in the study. Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews. The interviews took place over a one-month period from the 1st of August until the 4th of September 2016. Five main themes were derived from the data, suggesting that the main drivers for the repeated transfer of foster children centre on foster children’s behavioural problems, a shortage of resources such as vehicles, telephones, and the availability of DSWs, a lack of parenting skills and training, problematic relationships between foster parents and foster children, and finally, traumatic events that negatively affect foster children. Among these drivers, the findings of the study reveal that behavioural problems in foster children happen to be the major reason for the transfer of foster children from one position of care to another. Frequently this was compounded by the concurrent inability of foster parents to adequately manage such problems. These participants pointed out that most of the foster children who have been transferred from one position of care to another were reported to display uncontrollable behaviour when they reach adolescence, and foster parents are often unable to manage the associated rebellious behaviours which consequently lead to the breakdown of the placement. This seem to be a problem as DSWs felt the need to conduct parenting training of which is difficult due to the high caseload that they experience within their work environment. The mini-dissertation is concluded with a chapter which outlines the conclusions, limitations, implications and recommendations as well as obstacles obtained during the process of the study. It is the researcher ‘s suggestion that further research should be conducted in relation to the development, implementation and evaluation of appropriate training programs that DSWs should provide to foster parents in order to strengthen their knowledge in managing the behaviour of foster children. It was also suggested that future studies could explore the drivers for the transfer of foster children among people with different socio-economic characteristics. A need also exists for more in-depth exploration of how various life cycle stages of foster children affect their placement, based on the finding that adolescent foster children were often experienced as problematic. Finally, the current study did not explore the perception of foster children to get their experiences for being in multiple placements. This aspect should be included in future studies.
- Humanities