Adverse childhood experiences among foster parents: Prevalence and association with resilience, coping, satisfaction as a foster parent, and intent to continue fostering

Foster parents provide substitute, primary care for children who have been removed from their primary caregivers due to abuse and neglect. Little is known about the experiences of foster parents prior to fostering, particularly whether they have experienced adversity themselves, such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The purpose of this study was to examine the occurrence of ACEs among a convenience sample of foster parents and explore multiple relationships between foster parent-reported ACEs, resilience, and other indicators of foster parent function and well-being (parental stress, satisfaction as a foster parent, perceived challenges with fostering, intent to continue fostering). This study included a convenience sample of 150 non-relative foster parents from across the United States who were currently fostering. Authors utilized descriptive statistics to describe occurrence of ACEs, regression analyses to examine associations between study variables, and t tests to address differences in resilience and fostering outcomes based on experience of ACEs. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of foster parents in this sample experienced one ACE or more. Results indicated that there were no relationships between ACEs and foster parent outcomes, except that foster parents with at least one ACE reported more challenges with the foster care system. Parental resilience was associated with parental stress, satisfaction, and intent to continue fostering. The results of this study indicate that early adversity may be less important than foster parent resilience, particularly considering that resilience is both genetic and something that can be taught. Thus, researchers and child welfare practitioners or administrators should understand and integrate foster parent training and supports that can build foster parent resilience.