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A support model for foster care – KAKENHI Basic Scientific Research

Research into foster care at the Osaka Prefecture University to develop effective support and provide a sustainable environment for foster children

The purpose of this study is to clarify the components of social work needed to enable a foster family to develop effective support. The focus is on preventing the problems of maltreatment by foster parents and ‘foster care drift’ caused by foster parents giving up.

The ultimate goal is ensuring the well-being of all children living under foster care. This study aims to build up a community-based support system that enables all children in need of social care to regain their trust, security and self-esteem through their life with foster parents and to grow to become a healthy adult.

In the majority of developed countries, children who are abused, neglected or cannot live with their parents for other reasons, are placed in foster homes. Japanese social foster care has traditionally been centred around institutional care. This led to the United Nations making recommendations for improvement and in response, Japan announced ‘The Issues and Future Vision of Social Foster Care’ in 2011 and a ‘New Vision of Social Foster Care’ to increase the foster parent placement rate in 2017.

Since then, there have been signs of improvement, but research has highlighted the need for more work in this area. There are clear areas for improvement to prevent incidents of abuse and mistreatment and to reduce the number of foster parents giving up fostering. It is with this in mind that I has assembled a team of researchers to work on a project that seeks to build a system for supporting foster parents and promote home-based care by foster parents.

This research is ongoing, but there have been several results so far that I have found particularly pleasing and encouraging. Through a questionnaire survey of foster parents nationwide, it became clear that foster parents raising older children bear more burden than foster parents raising infants. Until now, discussions on support for child-raising in Japan tend to focus on supporting families raising infants, and little attention has been paid to supporting foster parents who raise children before adolescence or independence. This particular survey result was the driver for me to create an opportunity for the whole of society to think about; namely, to provide support for foster parents who raise older children – something which it has not been properly discussed by the Japanese government and other institutions in the past.