As social care placement into foster care is being strongly encouraged by the central and local governments, the rate of foster care placements will continue to rise. As a result, it is expected that more children and young people who need planning to return to their biological homes will be placed into foster care. Therefore, building a relationship between foster carers and biological parents as joint caregivers for family reunification will be an important issue in future social care.
In this study, interviews were conducted with 10 carers who have experience working with the biological parents of their placed children in order to examine what kinds of perceptions the carers had through their experiences of being involved with the biological parents and how they changed.
The interviews found that the perceptions of the carers showed changes in their direct relationships with the biological parents. Although they initially had negative feelings toward the biological parents, as they recognized their efforts, they developed positive feelings and changed their minds so as to cooperate with the biological parents. Negative thoughts towards the biological parents that occurred during the relationship were modified by positive translations in the carers’ perceptions. In supporting the biological parents, many of the carers’ own skills were used, such as drawing a “boundary line” so that the carers would not be swayed by fluctuations in the biological parents. While dealing with the conflicts of foster carers caused by rejection by biological parents and with the risks entailed in supporting biological parents, a sense of their role to support the biological parents was maintained through factors for maintaining motivation, such as gaining the trust of biological parents, bonds among their team, and cooperation with peers.
This study suggests that when foster carers maintain their role of supporting biological parents, the likelihood of co-parenting between foster carers and parents increases.
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