All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Susan Davies

Advisory Committee Members

Amanda Howard

Connie Kohler

Jenna Lachenaye

Robin Lanzi

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Public Health

Abstract

This Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) qualitative study interviewed fifteen non-kinship foster parents in Alabama to explore their lived experiences of influencing the positive mental health of their foster children. This phenomenological approach allowed for a deeper understanding of the challenges foster caregivers face when facilitating improved psychological and social well-being of their foster children. In 2015, there were 427,910 children in foster care, with 45% of these children residing in a non-kinship foster home (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System [AFCARS], 2016). Children in foster care, especially children in non-kinship care arrangements, often have significant and complex mental health issues, due to a history of trauma and other negative experiences. Mental health is the most significant unmet health need of foster children (American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP], 2016). Although the prevalence and severity of mental health issues in this population is well documented in the literature, studies to examine the perceptions of the foster parents in terms of their efforts to affect the positive mental health of these children are lacking. The purpose of the study was to address this gap in the literature in order to promote positive well-being and improved outcomes of those involved in the foster care system. Key words: foster care, foster parents, phenomenology, mental health, well-being

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