"It's Really Overwhelming": Parent and Service Provider Perspectives of Parents Aging Out of Foster Care.
Radey, Melissa. Schelbe, Lisa. McWey, Lenore M. Holtrop, Kendal. Canto, Angela I.
Published: August 2016
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 67 , p. 1-10
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Rates of pregnancy and parenthood among current and former foster youth are two to three times higher than non-foster youth peers. Repeat pregnancies among young mothers aging out of foster care also occur at higher rates than peers not involved with the child welfare system. Furthermore, mothers aging out of foster care demonstrate high levels of parenting stress and risk for child maltreatment. Indeed, this population is in significant need of help; however, beyond anecdotal evidence, little is known about the needs and day-to day experiences of this population. In order to tailor interventions to meet the needs of parents aging out, the perspectives of stakeholders must be taken into account. Using qualitative data gathered from separate small group interviews with parents aging out and service providers, this study examined participants' perceptions of parents' daily experiences, strengths, and needs. Findings indicated that parents aging out face overwhelming adversity and stress with little outside financial, emotional, or parenting support from family or friends. Yet, parents also expressed motivation to be good parents, resilience, and the desire to gain effective parenting skills. Although similar themes arose among parent and provider interviews, perceptions differed. Parents expressed hope and optimism in providing for their children while providers expressed systemic failure in preparing parents for independent living. Based on these findings, we conclude that parenting interventions specific to parents aging out may need to address three fundamental and key components: basic needs, social support, and effective parenting techniques. (Author abstract)
foster adolescents; aging out; independent living; independent living skills; adolescent parents; parental stress; parent education; parenting skills