Foster care and adoption: Carer/parent hours over and above 'ordinary parenting'

Catherine Forbes, Cas O'Neill, Cathy Humphreys, Susan Tregeagle, Elizabeth Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Caring for children in home-based care is seen as requiring considerably more time and energy from caregivers than is the case for most other children who are not in care. This article reports on a study that quantified the amount of time, over and above ordinary parenting , spent by 26 foster carers and prospective adoptive parents of children during a 9-month period in a program offering long-term care. The findings provide information that is potentially useful, not only in the debate about the decline in carer numbers, but also for agencies when they are recruiting, training and assessing prospective carers. Carers in the study spent an average of 55 minutes per day (or approximately 6 hours 22 minutes per 7-day week) on activities over and above the ordinary care of children. Carer time was highest for cases in the first year of placement when the average time was close to 2 hours per day. The tasks that took the greatest carer time, on average, were access visits, meeting with caseworkers, school- and tutoring-related matters, counselling and medical appointments, and organising respite care. Not surprisingly, more time was spent on children with challenging health and behavioural issues. Despite these differences in the average level of time required for each individual situation, the study also demonstrates that most carers experience days that are substantially taken up with their care responsibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56 - 65
Number of pages10
JournalChildren Australia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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