Foster carer self-efficacy and the role of attributions and coping in the quality of foster placements
Aims: Children who experience abuse and neglect prior to being fostered and/or adopted are a particularly vulnerable group within society and more research is required to better understand the outcomes for these young people. In relation to this population, this thesis had three aims: to review the impact of attachment based interventions, to evaluate the role of foster carer factors in the provision of quality placements and to assess foster carer and social worker agreement on ratings of placement quality. Methods: Aims are addressed separately in three journal articles. A systematic review of attachment based interventions is presented in journal article 1. The findings from a quantitative cross sectional study involving foster carers (n=91) and social workers (n=87) are presented in journal articles 2 and 3. Correlation and multiple regression analyses explore the relationship between foster carer self-efficacy, coping, attributions and placement quality. The weighted kappa statistic is used to explore the agreement between ratings of placement quality within foster carer/social worker dyads. Results: The systematic review indicated that there is some support for the positive impact of attachment based interventions, particularly with young children (0-6 years) in foster/adoptive care. There are significant limitations of the research in this area and further research is required to establish the efficacy of such interventions. Foster carer self-efficacy emerged as a significant predictor of placement quality. Due to a number of measurement and statistical issues, this finding requires replication. Agreement between foster carers and social workers regarding placement quality was slight to fair, indicating the presence of some discrepancies. Conclusions: The results are discussed in relation to previous research with this population of children/young people. Findings from the systematic review suggest the importance of further intervention studies and the results from the empirical study highlight possible areas for intervention, namely foster carer self-efficacy. A number of issues in relation to future research are raised, specifically the development of a standardized measure of placement quality and the impact of systemic issues, such as foster carer/social worker communication on children and young people’s outcomes.