Experiences of disenfranchised grief arising from the unplanned termination of a foster placement: An exploratory South Australian study

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Abstract:

When a child who has been in your primary care – a child whom you have loved, helped in times of need, comforted when upset and celebrated with in times of happiness – is taken from you unexpectedly, and when this care arrangement was thought to be long term, the sense of loss and grief is likely to be significant. Furthermore, the significance of this might be compounded if it is not adequately recognised. The findings reported by Damien W Riggs and Stacey Willsmore affirm this supposition by exploring four case studies of South Australian foster carers who experienced an unplanned placement termin ation. The findings indicate that the participants experi enced their grief as disenfranchised, in that it was not adequately recognised nor adequately dealt with. The case studies highlight the need for recognition of the fact that foster carers are not simply 'paid babysitters' but form enduring and meaningful attachments with the children in their care, and that the ending of a placement, especially one intended to be long term, will likely bring with it significant issues of loss and grief.

Keywords: FOSTER CARE; LOSS AND GRIEF; PLACEMENT TERMINATION; SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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