Collective Wisdom from Kentucky's Foster Parents



Foster parents serve an integral role in the lives of children every day. In this article, qualitative data from a statewide sample of foster parents from both public and private agencies offered insight into the reasons that they may leave the agency, barriers they reported as influencing the timely permanency of children in care, ideas for the retention of foster parents, and specific requests for additional training. A thematic analysis revealed the inability to continue, various dissatisfactions, and the related emotional impact as key factors that would result in their positions. Foster parents identified challenges with state’s child welfare workers and the justice system as the main barriers that are keeping children in care from achieving timely permanency. Additionally, they requested increased services and support, and they gave examples of additional trainings that would improve their effectiveness as foster parents (e.g., behavior management skills and self-care techniques). The present provides a thorough exploration of these important areas, as foster parents share their wisdom and contribute potential solutions to issues that have long been faced by the child welfare system. Limitations and conclusions are discussed.

Author Biographies

  • Alecia Hatfield, Western Kentucky University

    Alecia Hatfield is a student of the College of Education and Behavioral Science (Department of Psychology), obtaining a Master of Art degree in Clinical Psychology. Alecia is a native of Elizabethtown, KY, and she received her Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology at WKU in the fall of 2020. While studying as an undergraduate, Alecia gained plentiful knowledge and experience while working with children and adolescents at the Lifeskills Children’s Crisis and Stabilization Unit. Now, she hopes to utilize the knowledge gained through education and hands-on experience to positively impact the lives of children and their caregivers.

  • David Roehm, Western Kentucky University

    David Roehm is a graduate student in the College of Education and Behavioral Science (Department of Psychology) at Western Kentucky University, obtaining his Master of Art degree in Clinical Psychology. David was born and raised in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and he earned his Bachelor of Art in Psychology at WKU. David is passionate about child welfare, and through the host of experiences he has in the field, he desires to strengthen, support, and sustain the fabric of child welfare for the betterment of our communities.

  • Austin Griffiths, Western Kentucky University

    Austin Griffiths is an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University and the Director of the LifeSkills Center for Child Welfare Education and Research. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Master of Social Work at Western Kentucky University and his Ph.D. in the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work. Previously a child welfare practitioner in the commonwealth of Kentucky, Dr. Griffiths is passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families, as well as supporting and advocating for a healthy and vibrant child welfare workforce.

  • Simon P. Funge, Western Kentucky University

    Dr. Simon P. Funge is the BSW Program Director and an Associate Professor at WKU. Originally from England, Dr. Funge grew up in southern California. Prior to receiving his MSW, he provided counseling and coordinated a psychosocial rehabilitation program providing support to community members living with a mental illness who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. And, as a professional social worker, he worked for a national human relations organization conducting a variety of advocacy, conflict resolution, and education programs aimed at promoting more inclusive communities. He also has experience in community development and working with paroled juvenile sex offenders.