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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Deirdre Lanesskog


There has been a great deal of research published on foster youth’s perspectives regarding their relationships with foster parents, their experiences within the foster care system, and their longing for their biological parents. Limited research exists on foster parents’ experiences with the foster care system. More recently, foster parents have been asked to engage in the concurrent planning process, in which social workers work towards reunifying foster youth with their biological families, while at the same time planning for long-term, alternative placement in case reunification is not possible. The child welfare system depends on foster parents to care for and possibly be a long-term permanent placement for foster youth, yet we have little knowledge of foster parents’ experiences with concurrent planning and whether it impacts the foster parents’ ability to bond with foster youth.

This is a quantitative study, which uses survey questionnaires developed by the researcher to explore foster parents’ experiences with concurrent planning and their self-reported experiences with bonding to foster youth. The survey was sent to 107 licensed foster parents at two Southern California foster family agencies using Qualtrics. The results of the survey questionnaires were documented in Qualtrics and a statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS Version 2.1.

The foster parent participants in this study reported a range of experiences related to concurrent planning. Some reported receiving explicit training on the process from their social workers, while others received little to no information on concurrent planning. The study found a strong, positive correlation between the level of training and education participants received and their overall perceptions of the concurrent planning process. The study also explored relationship between the age of the foster child and the placement status of the foster child with the foster parent’s reported bonding to the child. The study found a small, positive correlation between the age of the child and the foster parents’ reported bonding. Similarly, the study’s findings suggest that foster parents with permanent placement youth report slightly higher levels of bonding with the youth than those with family reunification cases; however, this finding was not statistically significantly.

This study’s findings suggest the need for more research regarding foster parents’ experiences working with concurrent planning and with the child welfare system in general. This study suggests that factors such as foster parent experiences, as well as foster youths’ characteristics, may play a role in bonding between foster parents and foster youth. These factors should be further explored to provide the best chance for children to develop strong, lasting relationships with their foster parents that may lead to permanency. Understanding foster parents’ experiences may provide insight on the kinds of support, education, and training child welfare agencies should provide for foster parents who serve as such crucial resources for the child welfare system and the children it serves.