Foster Caregivers' Perspectives on the Medical Challenges of Children Placed in Their Care: Implications for Pediatricians Caring for Children in Foster Care

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2015 Aug;54(9):853-61. doi: 10.1177/0009922814563925. Epub 2015 Jan 5.


Objective: To investigate, using qualitative methodology, foster caregivers' perspectives related to the medical needs of children placed in their care.

Study design: Fifteen foster caregivers were individually interviewed using a semistructured open-ended question guide. Data were coded, and the analysis was conducted in an inductive manner, allowing themes to emerge from the interviews.

Results: The following 4 themes were identified: (1) the fragmented histories provided to foster caregivers and difficulty in obtaining information; (2) the unique medical complications that children in foster care experience; (3) the difference between "doing what is expected" and becoming a proactive foster caregiver; and (4) the support needs of foster caregivers.

Conclusions: Foster caregivers receive insufficient information despite the evidence that these children are likely to have complex needs. It is, therefore, necessary for the pediatrician to recognize existing medical problems, identify new medical problems, educate foster caregivers, and communicate with the multidisciplinary team.

Keywords: Children’s Services; child abuse; child welfare; foster care; foster caregiver; foster parent; maltreatment; neglect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population