School-Based Support for Foster Families: Understanding the Experiences and Needs of the Biological Children of Foster Parents

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.S. in School Psychology


School of Education and Health Sciences


Susan Davies


Foster families face a range of experiences during the fostering process that affect all members of the family both positively and negatively, including the biological children of foster parents. While recent research has begun to focus on support for foster families, most research focuses on training and support for foster parents. Where research does address effects on biological children, there is a gap in the literature concerning long-term supports for these family members. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of the biological children of foster parents while investigating suggestions for school-based supports. Following the phenomenological, qualitative method of research, ten participants ages 10-24, whose families chose to foster one or more children in their homes, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. Through a thematic analysis, categories and themes emerged, including: positive experiences (new siblings, diverse experiences, helping others, closer relationships with parents and biological siblings, and sharing in a unified family mission) and negative experiences (foster kids’ trauma and behavior, ending/temporary nature of placements, older siblings carrying weight for younger siblings, busy schedule, split attention and effect on academics). Three specific recommendations for supports emerged from the data: community, someone to talk to, and validation of experiences. The findings from this study can be used to inform school-based supports for the biological children of foster parents.


Education, Educational Psychology, Psychology, School Counseling, Social Work, foster care

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