• Mette Sofie Rødbro
  • Majbritt Pedersen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
The use of foster families has grown in Denmark in recent years making it the most common way of relocating children outside their birth home. Furthermore new research indicate that the majority of the children in family care suffer from emotional and psychiatric issues.

It is important to analyse how the foster parents perceive their own abilities of handling the care of the children.
In this thesis we analyse this through a qualitative study of three focus group interviews with twelve foster families in total.

Our methodology is founded in the grounded theory approach with a specific focus on the relationship between theory and the empirical findings making the empirical findings the guiding line of the analysis itself.
The analysis shows two main themes; cooperation and knowledge.

In spite of not being asked about it all the foster families mention the cooperation with the municipal authorities in reflecting on their own abilities concerning the care of the children. They have a shared perception of the interaction with the authorities as being mistrustful, dishonest and unbalanced in the distribution of power thus making the relation a potential hindrance to their work.

The knowledge theme concerns the educational knowledge and the practically founded knowledge based on experience with the foster parenting with the latter being central element in the analysis. Furthermore the knowledge theme contains the aspect of knowledge that the foster families themselves feel in lack of.

The thematical analysis is succeeded by a discussion of the themes in relation to relevant literature and theory. The discussion includes Niklas Luhmann's theory of trust and mistrust, Søren Juul and Peter Høiland's concept of judgment, the concept of professionally and interprofessionality of Morten Ejrnæs and Jens Guldager's distinction of types of knowledge that social workers rely on in their work. In addition Karen Healeys' distinction between evidence based and experience based work and Donald A. Schön's theory.

We find that the foster families perceive themselves as being in lack of sufficient qualifications in order to perform as foster parents in a satisfying manner. This in spite of most of the foster families in the analysis having relevant educational and practical experience.
This leads to our conclusion that the foster families both need and want further help and guidance in how to manage in a job with increasingly challenging foster children but especially concerning the relationship and cooperation with the municipal authorities.
Publication date12 Jul 2017
Number of pages116
ID: 260708806