Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gilbert Mazer

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Hovestadt

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear


The purpose of this study was to investigate the subjective experience of emotional and physical stress reported by foster parents that may be caused by serial placements of foster children. It also addressed the coping response mechanisms and style of foster parents that may promote successful endurance of serial losses. In addition, the relationship between specific coping responses of foster parents was investigated to determine if the circumstances of placement or characteristics of foster parents interact to exacerbate or remediate emotional/physical stress.

Demographics were tabulated for Michigan foster parents including age, family income, religious affiliation, racial/cultural identification, marital status, educational attainment and employment. Data collected that were directly related to fostering included agency affiliation, characteristics of children fostered, length of time as foster parents, total number of children fostered, hours and subjects of foster parent training, amount of notice given foster parents for the last foster child placed in their home, satisfaction with the role of foster parent, original impetus and continuing motivation to foster, and a behavioral description of the last foster child to leave. To study coping responses a third category of data were collected. These included family of origin information as measured by the Family of Origin Scale (Hovestadt, Anderson, Piercy, Cochran, & Fine, 1985), the frequency of working with natural parents, emotions felt when foster children leave, social support for the experience of grief, current and anticipated coping mechanisms employed in response to stress, and coping responses to stress as measured by the Coping Responses Inventory (CRI) (Moos, 1986).

Subjects included 218 adults who responded to the survey sent in July 1991 to a random sample of 500 individuals licensed as foster parents by the State of Michigan. Means and standard deviations of the sample were obtained and contrasted with norms for the general population. Correlation, t tests for independent means and analysis of variance were employed for hypotheses testing.

No differences in coping response style were found on the CRI. Differences between the sample and the general population were found for birth order, religious preference and participation, family income, educational attainment, incidence of alcohol abuse in the family of origin, and mental health treatment of parents. Interactional effects were found for the degree of satisfaction with fostering, experience of sadness in reaction to the loss of a foster child, number of years and children fostered, and the description of the last foster child to leave the foster home.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons