Latest Research in Creating Networks for Youth in Care

Latest Research In Creating Networks For Youth In CareCheck out these short research summaries from other experts in the field + learn their implications for practice!

Foster mothers’ parenting stress and coparenting quality: An examination of the moderating role of support. (2018)
Richardson, E. W., Futris, T. G., Mallette, J. K., & Campbell, A.

The quality of the relationship between foster caregivers who are co-parenting (living together and parenting) is considered to be a predictor of the stability of the placement for the child in their care. In this study, 59 female foster caregivers completed a survey examining their perceived parental stress, coparenting relationship quality, and perceived helpfulness of foster caregiver role support. This study revealed a link between foster mothers’ perceived parenting stress and the perceived helpfulness of informal network supports such as their parents, in-laws, leaders in their place of worship and other foster parents. Foster mothers who reported higher levels of helpfulness from those around them, reported lower parenting stress and higher quality coparenting relationships with their partners. The authors of this study recommend child welfare professionals receive “relationship education.” Professionals can learn to work with caregivers in the context of their relationship but also to help identify and cultivate healthy and helpful relationships in caregivers’ lives. This research suggests this can help mitigate some of the parenting stress and ultimately increase placement stability for the children in their care.

Increasing social support for child welfare-involved families through family group conferencing. (2020)
Corwin, T. W., Maher, E. J., Merkel-Holguin, L., Allan, H., Hollinshead, D. M., & Fluke, J. D.

Lack of social support is a well-known risk factor for child maltreatment. Family Group Conferencing (FGC) leverages both formal supports (child welfare agencies, providers and health professionals) and informal supports (relatives, friends) to increase the social support around families and promote child safety. This study examined the influence of these interventions on caseworkers’ perception of the families’ level of  social support. The Randomized Control Trial compared a control group of families who received a typical service array (family counseling, parenting classes and family meeting) (n= 39) with families who received FGC (n=106). Many control group families did also participate in a family meeting intervention similar to FGC so whether or not FGC significantly increased social support cannot be adequately detected in this study. The researchers did find that families’ participation in any type of family meetings was positively associated with  caseworkers’ perception of improved social support, with the more time-intensive FGC intervention having the strongest association. This study provides evidence that family meetings are a useful strategy towards building social support and are a protective factor for child safety.

Strengths-Based Practice in Child Welfare: A Systematic Literature Review. (2021)
Toros, K., Falch-Eriksen, A.

With strengths-based practice (SBP) being considered a cornerstone of social work practice, this systematic review aims to provide greater emphasis on how this one approach can prove to be effective for child-welfare workers working with families. After an initial screening of 189 articles, a final set of 11 articles were identified that studied SBP in combination with child protection and welfare, or family. Data analysis revealed three main themes of approaches that facilitate relationships: collaboration, building trusting relationships, and empowerment. For collaboration, child protection workers who were believed to have skills and knowledge of SBP placed greater emphasis on learning about families’ resources and strengths in the assessment process, rather than only looking for deficits and faults. It also becomes evident that when building trusting relationships between family-worker collaborations, researchers identified that communicating with transparency and honesty during conversations can further lead to improvements in parents’ abilities to provide a safe, stable environment for their children. Furthermore, when identifying the theme of empowerment, researchers explained how child protection workers who talk about and highlight families’ strengths may promote feelings of self-efficacy and an increased ability to parent more effectively.