Foster families wanted: Recruitment, assessment and municipal partnerships in foster care

Two children walking along a road with their back turned to the camera.
Recruitment of family homes is a prerequisite for stable family home placements. Unsplash

The rights of children to stable foster care placements has lately been emphasized repeatedly. At the same time there is a shortage of and competition for foster homes. Why is that so and what can bed done about it? In collaboration with social services in several municipalities we want to find possible answers to these questions and thereby to address current and future challenges in foster care.

A foster home is a private home that is commissioned to care for and foster a child and that is remunerated for doing so. Foster care is the prioritized placement form for children, who social services have decided need out-of-home care, but there is a shortage of foster carers.

The aim of the research project Foster families wanted. Recruitment, assessment and municipal partnerships in foster care is to examine explanations for the shortage of foster homes by posing three overarching questions in three sub studies: 1) Why do not more people apply to become foster carers? 2) On what grounds are applicants assessed as suitable or unsuitable? 3) How is the competition for foster homes handled by municipalities through regional partnerships? In sub study 1 randomly selected women and men are invited to participate in a survey about their views of foster care and their own potential to serve as foster carers. The aim of sub study 2 is to analyse assessment methods and guidelines (2a), and to examine on what grounds applicants are assessed as suitable or unsuitable as foster carers. Data collection in 2b is conducted with a study specific assessment log that has been developed in collaboration with social services and through focus group conversations with case workers. In sub study 3 we investigate what constitutes success factors, and what can be learned from previous regional partnerships in foster care.

The research project is funded by Forte (Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare) and builds on a planning project Recruitment, assessment and matching of foster carers.