Foster and kinship caregiver perceptions of support and training in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This dissertation describes a study that investigated the perceptions of foster/whānau caregivers of support and training provisions in Canterbury, New Zealand. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative component consisted of six questions presented to caregivers at individual or couple interviews. Major themes identified in the response to these questions indicated that participants are generally feeling under-supported and disrespected by social services staff, overwhelmed by the range, severity and difficulty of their children's behaviours, isolated in their role, unable to access relief care and a lack of provision and support for training in local areas. Participants also indicated a desire for training on the etiology and management of difficult child behaviours, managing birth family contact and legal issues relating to allegations and permanency. Areas of current support that caregivers indicated are useful included the support provided by Caregiver Liaison Social Workers, school and early childhood education staff, general practitioners, and other caregivers The quantitative component consisted of a survey covering basic demographic information. A modified child behavioural checklist, containing selected items from the 'Child Behaviour Checklist' and the 'Assessment Checklist for Children' was constructed to assess the range of problematic child behaviours caregivers are experiencing and how prepared they felt in dealing with them. Findings indicated that the participants are experiencing a range of severe behaviours well outside the normal experience of parents but are consistent with those reported in the international literature for children in care. The PSI was used to assess caregiver's stress levels relating to their parenting role. Participants reported high levels of stress particularly in the child domain of the PSI with sub-scales in the high to clinical range across this domain. Implications of theses results are discussed including implications for the caregivers, social welfare practices and the development of future training packages for caregivers.