Fostering a bicultural familial experience

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Kurtz, Arliss
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Transcultural foster placements are common in the child welfare system. Review of the literature revealed that educating foster parents aids in the creation of an awareness of the importance of providing bicultural environments when children enter care. This aids in the development of feelings of self worth and positive self identities in the children. Skills and knowledge regarding how to achieve successful bicultural foster placements were taught to caregivers of placed children using a time-limited, structured, psycho-educational group format. The curriculum was based on the adult learning modality within an eco-systemic framework. A support and self-help component was also incorporated to meet the emotional needs of the caregivers participating in the program. The intent of this intervention was to educate the members about the impact of the children's culture on their emotional development and adjustment to placement, as well as to recognize the caregivers' stressors and emotional needs. The end resultwas the enrichment of the group members' skills in providing culturally respectful care for their foster children, as well as strengthening of the members' personal coping skills with the extreme demands of caring for apprehended children placed in their homes. The program was evaluated through pre- and post- test measures. The findings indicated that the group attracted highly competent caregivers who already had a keen interest in cultural issues and/or professional development.