Call for foster carers to participate in new study


Date: 07/12/2009

The experiences of female, long-term, foster carers will be explored in a new study which will provide a fresh perspective on the foster care system and help improve the outcomes for children and carers.

Stacy Blythe, from the University of Western Sydney Family and Community Health Research Group says the voices of Australian foster carers - who are usually women - have remained largely unheard.

"Despite their obvious importance to the foster care system, relatively little is known about foster carers," says Ms Blythe, who is also a PhD candidate in the UWS School of Nursing and Midwifery.

"This may be due, in part, to the nature of the foster care system and its emphasis on the recipients (children and young people) rather than the providers of care."

Ms Blythe is collecting and analysing the stories of women who provide long-term foster care for children and young people in Australia.

Participants in the study will be invited to discuss their own experiences of fostering in an interview.

"Analysing stories, from the female carers' perspective, has the potential to inform future foster care policy ensuring that the needs of female carers are met as well as enhance the benefits to the children," she says.

The demand for foster care has grown over the past decade, but most research has been focused on the statutory bodies creating policies, the caseworkers and specialists, and the effects of the system on the children.

Foster carers are the authorised individuals who provide a family-like environment in their homes for children and young people who are unable to live with their birth families. The carers assume the responsibility of providing a safe, stable and nurturing home, but are not considered the legal guardians.

The current study is limited to women who provide long-term foster care. To participate in the study, contact Stacy Blythe at s.blythe@uws.edu.au or 0433 347 344.

Ms Blythe hopes future research will be expanded to men and women who provide alternate types of care, such as short-term and respite foster care.

Ends

Contact:


Senior Media Officer


Paul Grocott
p.grocott@uws.edu.au
02 9678 7083, 0406 429 304