Perceived barriers, drivers and enablers to becoming a foster family: an exploratory study in Portugal

Catarina Anjos, Eunice Magalhães, João Graça, Vania Salvador Pinto, Joana Baptista, Micaela Pinheiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children and young people that need to be removed from their living environment should be preferably placed in a family care context, rather than in residential care homes. Given the scarcity of foster families in the child protection system, efforts to recruit new families may benefit from evidence about the representations, enablers, and barriers to become a foster family within community samples. The current qualitative study (N = 716, 79 % female, aged between 18 and 76 years old, Portugal) collected data from a set of free word association tasks and open questions about foster families. The results revealed mostly positive representations about foster families and their protective role for children in need (e.g., social appreciation of foster families), although some negative representations were also identified (e.g., ambivalence regarding the role of foster families). The main perceived drivers and enablers to become a foster family included the protective role of foster care (e.g., to promote child development), individual/family resources (e.g., economic resources), and other family factors (e.g., inability to have biological children). The main perceived barriers included the lack of individual and family resources (e.g., economic resources), individual and family constraints (e.g., emotional or health related factors), and constraints related with the foster care system (e.g., bureaucracy, difficulties regarding formal procedures). These findings provide inputs for further research on how to improve the recruitment and retention of new foster families.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106811
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


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