Supporting foster carers to meet the needs of looked after children: A feasibility and pilot evaluation of the Reflective Fostering Programme

This study presents the feasibility and pilot evaluation of the Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP), a recently developed, group-based program to support foster carers, based on the concept of “reflective parenting.” This innovative development follows calls by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and other organizations to help improve outcomes for children in care by providing better support to their carers. This study aimed to establish whether it is possible to implement the RFP and to gather preliminary data on the acceptability and effectiveness of the program. Twenty-eight foster carers took part in the study. Results indicate that training and delivery of the RFP were feasible; the program was felt to be relevant and meaningful to both foster carers and social care professionals delivering it. Preliminary pre-post evaluation showed a statistically significant improvement in foster carers’ stress, their achievement of self-defined goals and child’s emotion lability and overall strengths and difficulties. There were no statistically significant changes in carers’ reflective functioning, although some foster carers reported on changes in reflective capacity during focus groups. Preliminary findings about the feasibility of training and delivery of the RFP, as well as the acceptability and effectiveness of the program, are encouraging, but further impact evaluation is needed.

Author(s):

Show less Nick Midgley, Antonella Cirasola, Chloe Austerberry, Erica Ranzato, Grace West, Peter Martin, Sheila Redfern, Richard Cotmore, Theresa Park

Publisher:

Developmental Child Welfare