“I can be the kind of parent that I wish I had”: Exploring multigenerational involvement in former foster care parenthood



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The purpose of the foster care system is to promote safety, stability and wellbeing for children who have experienced maltreatment with the intent that children will heal and become stable adults. However, adolescents who have experienced abuse and neglect before they had children have a strong likelihood that their children will become involved with child welfare services due to maltreatment (Putnam-Hornstein, et al 2013 ). This dissertation explores multigenerational involvement in the foster care system, also known as intergenerational removal, in young adult parents’ lives that grew up in foster care. Questionnaires and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 16 adults over age 18, both male and female, who were in foster care and have biological children were conducted to understand the parenting experiences of former foster youth. I compared and looked for similarities and differences between two groups of former foster care parents: those who have child welfare involvement with their biological children and those who have not. Since qualitative research on multigenerational involvement in foster care is relatively new, I employed a qualitative grounded theory approach in the absence of a hypothesis to develop a theoretical framework for understanding parenting experiences of former foster youth. Former foster care parents credited education and religion as two main influences in their ability to break cycles of abuse. The emergent theory, threshold parenting, supported by themes in the findings create a framework that informs policies and programs aimed at multigenerational involvement prevention in child welfare.



Foster care, Multigenerational involvement, Threshold theories, Parenting, Education, Morality