School of Behavioral Sciences
Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)
Foster Parents, Foster Children, Trauma, Experiences, Abuse, Child Welfare Services
Counseling | Psychiatry and Psychology
Butler, Audrey Michelle, "Exploring Trauma: Lived Experiences of Foster Parents in the Foster Care System" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3636.
This qualitative transcendental phenomenology study explored the lived experiences of foster parents who care for traumatized children. Children in the foster care system are often exposed to trauma before and after entering the foster care system. Therefore, the trauma that foster children experience can impact them emotionally, psychologically, and cognitively. Unfortunately, foster parents are often unequipped to deal with these issues when these children enter their homes. The gap this study aimed to address was that foster parents did not have opportunities to share their experiences on what it was like to provide care for traumatized foster children. Husserl’s phenomenology theory guided this exploration and provided an in-depth, comprehensive description of foster parents’ experience in the foster care system. The study’s design and framework were used to address the research question, how does a foster parent describe their experience of providing care for children who have experienced trauma? In the rural region of Atlanta, Georgia, seven foster parents participated in semi-structured face-to-face interviews. The data were analyzed and coded. Four themes emerged: challenges in being a foster parent, the impact of fostering traumatized children, factors contributing to foster parents’ resilience, and recommendations for supporting foster parents. The themes provided insight into what it was like to provide care for foster children in the foster care system and shed light on foster parents’ challenges and needs in caring for traumatized children. The themes revealed that caring for traumatized children can be stressful. The foster parents did not receive sufficient communication about the children’s trauma background or training in managing the children’s trauma. Training and workshops were recommended because the foster parent can experience burnout without developing resiliency and support.