Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Work

Major Professor

John G. Orme

Committee Members

Terri Combs-Orme, Marlys Staudt, Brian K. Barber


Co-parenting, the joint participation and responsibility of a set of adults in childrearing (Talbot & McHale, 2004), contributes to our understanding of how family systems influence child outcomes. Co-parenting is more proximal to parenting than many measures of marital relationships in that it focuses only on those dyadic processes that are specific to parenting (e.g., child-rearing agreement, support/undermining of parenting practices). Because of this focus, it is also a more flexible construct for thinking about non-traditional parenting arrangements, such as family foster care. Rooted in a family systems theoretical framework, the unique contribution of co-parenting may help us better understand the relationship among marital dynamics, individual parenting, and ultimately, foster child outcomes. Therefore, it is imperative that the social work researchers and practitioners promote awareness of, and attention to, co-parenting in foster parents as an important facet of improving the well-being and care of children in foster care.

To date, co-parenting has not been studied in foster couples and no measure of foster co-parenting exists. The goal of this dissertation is to contribute to the knowledge base of foster couples and co-parenting by initiating the study of co-parenting in foster couples. Specifically, this study examined the psychometric properties of the Casey Foster Applicant Inventory-Applicant – Co-parenting Scale, an instrument developed to measure foster parents’ co-parenting potential. Results of the EFA and CFA strongly supported a reliable 10-item, one-factor Co-parenting construct for foster mothers and foster fathers that is distinct from, but related to, marital quality and parenting quality in expected ways.

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