Date of Award

8-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Social Work

Major Professor

John G. Orme

Committee Members

Terri Combs-Orme, Cheryl Buehler, Halima Bensmail

Abstract

A shortage of foster parents of diverse cultures coupled with the problem of an overrepresentation of children of minority cultures in the child welfare system has resulted in a dire need to place children in families that do not share cultures (i.e., transcultural placements). Children in foster and adoptive placements suffer the loss of their birth families and are at risk for losing knowledge about their past generations (Deberry, Scarr, & Weinberg, 1996; Thoburn, Norford, & Rashid, 2000). Children in transcultural placements are further at-risk for consequent loss of their cultural heritages. Therefore, it is imperative for transcultural foster parents to promote positively and enhance children’s cultural identities and help them remain connected with their cultures. It also is crucial for minority children to learn survival skills to live in a society that can be intolerant, indifferent, or hostile towards cultural diversity (McRoy, 1994; Vonk, 2001; Zuniga, 1991).

This dissertation examines how prospective foster parents are prepared to understand the necessary cultural activities involved in transcultural parenting. It also addresses the importance of assessing their openness to and capability of providing culturally appropriate fostering. Additionally, this study is significant because it is believed that cultural receptivity is related to other foster parent characteristics that are considered to be indicators of overall quality fostering. Finally, this dissertation presents the procedures used to develop and evaluate the Cultural Receptivity in Fostering Scale (CRFS), an instrument developed by the present author to measure foster parents' openness towards participating in activities that promote children's cultural development.

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