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The reflective fostering programme: evaluating the intervention co-delivered by social work professionals and foster carers

Nick Midgley (Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK and Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe), Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK)
Eva A. Sprecher (University College London, London, UK and Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe), Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK)
Antonella Cirasola (University College London, London, UK and Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe), Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK)
Sheila Redfern (Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment Service, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK)
Benita Pursch (Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment Service, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London, UK)
Caroline Smith (Kent County Council, Maidstone, UK)
Sue Douglas (Kent County Council, Maidstone, UK)
Peter Martin (Applied Health Research, University College London, London, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 14 May 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021

256

Abstract

Purpose

There is little evidence regarding how to best support the emotional well-being of children in foster care. This paper aims to present the evaluation of an adaptation of the reflective fostering programme, a group-based programme to support foster carers. This study aimed to explore whether a version of the programme, co-delivered by a social work professional and an experienced foster carer, was acceptable and relevant to foster carers and to gather data on programme effectiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 38 foster carers attended the programme and took part in this study. Data was collected regarding carer- and child-focused outcomes at pre-intervention, post-intervention and four-month follow-up. Focus interviews were also conducted to further assess acceptability and relevance for foster carers.

Findings

Analysis of quantitative outcome showed statistically significant improvements in all outcomes considered including foster carers stress and carer-defined problems, as well as carer-reported measures of child difficulties. Focus group interviews with foster carers suggested that the programme as co-delivered by a foster carer and a social worker was felt to be relevant and helpful to foster carers.

Originality/value

These results provide a unique contribution to limited understandings of what works for supporting foster carers and the children in their care. Promising evidence is provided for the acceptability and relevance of the revised version of this novel support programme and its effectiveness in terms of carer- and child-related outcome measures. This work paves the way for further necessary impact evaluation.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The research team would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the Reflective Fostering Programme facilitators and consultants who made the delivery of this Programme possible. We would also like to express our gratitude to the foster carers who attended the Programme and took part in this study, their generosity with their time and thoughts is greatly valued.

Citation

Midgley, N., Sprecher, E.A., Cirasola, A., Redfern, S., Pursch, B., Smith, C., Douglas, S. and Martin, P. (2021), "The reflective fostering programme: evaluating the intervention co-delivered by social work professionals and foster carers", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 159-174. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCS-11-2020-0074

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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