Research Review: Parents’ service experience – a missing element in research on foster care case outcomes
A large body of child protection literature focuses on termination of parental rights, family reunification, and children's re-entry into care as outcomes for children in foster care. Studies have investigated child, placement, family, and parent variables as predictors of case outcome. However, one important group of variables remains largely unstudied: factors related to parents’ service experience. Parents’ service experience includes parents’ perceptions of and involvement in the various services in which they must participate in order to recover their children from foster care (e.g. mandated treatment programmes such as substance abuse rehabilitation, parenting skills classes, etc.). The parental perspective on the foster care process is a critical element in the life of a child protection case, and its influence on case outcome must be explored. A brief review of the current literature on case outcome predictors is provided and parents’ service experience is highlighted as an area in need of investigation. Suggestions for the measurement of parents’ service experience are also offered.