Date of Award
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Rebecca Wolf, JD, MPH, OTR/L
Background: Children who have been placed in the foster care system due to trauma often have difficulty coping with past experiences. These traumatic experiences can often affect their development, physically and mentally, and emotional regulation, relationships, and attachment. As of April 2021, more than 13,400 children were placed in the foster care system in Arizona. While removing children from their birth home to a safer environment is critical, it brings along many challenges such as emotional trauma and inconsistent caregiving. Methods: The foster parent educational program described in this paper, “Fostering Healthy Therapeutic Relationships,” is a foster and adoptive parent educational resource that consists of weekly sessions twice a week via Zoom. The education sessions cover a wide range of topics such as attachment and trust, challenging behaviors, and grief and loss. Additionally, the instructor discussed information on culture and transracial adoption in a fourth optional class. This educational program is for foster and adoptive parents who have foster children or are looking to foster in the future. The sessions offer the ability to increase parenting skills and knowledge through discussions and interactive tools such as videos and handouts. The purpose of this program is to educate foster parents of Jose’s Closet through an occupational-based approach designed to equip foster parents with the basic knowledge and skills to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as foster parents. Results: The demographics have shown that the foster parent experience can range from having little to having no experience (fewer than 12 months) to 27 years and beyond. Forty-nine foster parents participated in the foster education program “Fostering Healthy Therapeutic Relationships.” Throughout the capstone experience, many parents expressed how beneficial it was to have discussions throughout the class, handouts, and videos. After completing the foster parent education program, many parents indicated that they felt very confident in the areas of topics presented (1) attachment and trust, (2) challenging behaviors, and (3) grief and loss. In the fourth optional class offered, parents indicated that they felt very confident or fairly confident about culture and transracial adoption. Furthermore, many parents have expressed the need for more advanced training that is applicable to their current situation. Foster parents’ highest priority of needs were (1) dealing with trauma, (2) managing challenging behaviors, and (3) self-care/how to manage grief. Discussion: Children who are placed in foster care often present with unique challenges, requiring different parenting approaches to adequately meet a foster child’s needs. Foster care children who have undergone significant childhood trauma will often have higher rates of behavioral problems and developmental disorders (Liming & Grube, 2018). During class discussions, foster parents continued to benefit from learning about challenging behaviors, trauma, and attachment. This capstone project aimed to identify education gaps for foster parents, focusing on foster parents’ satisfaction, needs, and competence in foster parenting tasks. This project identified that more research and advanced training are needed in the following areas of trauma-informed care, challenging behaviors, and attachment to continue to increase the knowledge of prospective and current foster care parents’ needs for training.
Barboza, Sydnie, "Fostering Healthy Therapeutic Relationships: Foster Parent Education Program" (2022). OT Student Capstones. 19.