Do frequency of visits with birth parents impact children’s mental health and parental stress in stable foster care settings
This article explores whether the number of visits by birth parents influence perceptions of attachment, children’s competence and mental health, and stress levels in foster parents. Foster parents acted as informants regarding 203 children living in kinship and non-kinship foster care. The children were young when placed in foster care, on average 2.3 years old (SD = 1.0) and had been living in the foster home for sometime at assessment, 5.4 years (SD = 3.0). Information were collected using validated instruments. The results showed that 47% of the children had monthly or more frequent visits with their mothers, whereas 21% of the fathers had visits this often. Visitations with birth parents did not significantly influence who was the main attachment figure or foster parental attachment relationships, the children’s psychosocial functioning or competence, or stress levels among the foster parents. These findings could indicate that social workers should emphasize the quality and short- and long-term consequences of visits for children when making decisions regarding the frequency of visits with birth parents. This could be done taking the child’s reactions and wishes into account, when evaluating the visit and the frequency of future visits. It is important that decisions concerning visits should be continuously revised in both the short- and the long term, since both wishes and practical aspects may change for all parties involved.
This is the published version of the following article: Fossum, S., Vis, S.A. & Holtan, A. (2018). Do frequency of visits with birth parents impact children’s mental health and parental stress in stable foster care settings. Cogent Psychology, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2018.1429350. Source at https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2018.1429350. Licensed CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.