Between 2004 and 2006, the State Government of South Australia funded a foster carer recruitment service to increase the number of foster carers within the State. Based on a combination of public advertising, community consultation, and a step-by-step process of assessment, the service was successful in attracting considerable public interest in foster care. However, only limited success was achieved in recruiting new foster carers. To investigate this, a retrospective survey of 347 people who made contact with the recruitment service was conducted. The survey examined several factors that might have acted as barriers to becoming a foster carer, including: perceptions of the quality of the service, the nature of the assessment process, concerns about foster care, and personal characteristics and circumstances. The results showed that concerns about the nature of foster care (e.g. nature of the children, their families and fear of being falsely accused of abuse) discouraged around 30% of respondents, but that the majority declined to continue because of inopportune personal circumstances or a fear of failure. The findings highlight the importance of providing greater community information regarding foster care prior to large-scale campaigns, as well as undertaking more specifically targeted recruitment strategies.
Associate Professor Paul Delfabbro Email: Paul.Delfabbro@psychology.adelaide.edu.au
School of Psychology University of Adelaide North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5005