Enhancing Retention of Foster Parents: The Role of Motivational Interviewingedit
About half of new foster parents quit fostering in their first year, which contributes to the national shortage of foster parents. The purpose of this longitudinal project was to implement and then evaluate a brief motivational interviewing (MI) intervention for new foster parents to support them in their transition to foster parenting. The study participants are a community sample of 112 new foster parents, half of whom were randomly selected to receive two sessions of MI and half of whom served as a control group. The goal was to improve the retention rates and the quality of the fostering experience of new foster parents, but the result was that neither retention nor quality of experience was different between the MI and control groups. Ambivalence about fostering was reduced in the MI group, and the MI group’s commitment to fostering was greater than the control group’s commitment by the one-year follow-up. A somewhat surprising observation was that only 47 of the 78 families in the study actually got licensed during the one-year study period, and it took participants about 125 days, on average, to get licensed. This suggests that licensing is taking too long and that many participants, without support and encouragement along the way, are abandoning the idea of fostering before they even begin. The results from this study are mixed and somewhat inconclusive, but what is evident is that more support and guidance for new foster parents is surely needed. Further study is warranted to try to create a more effective intervention to support new foster parents.