Concept mapping the needs of grandmothers who take care of their of their grandchildren in formal foster care

Frank Van Holen, Researcher, Pleegzorg Vlaams-Brabant en Brussel ,Belgium 

Julie Van Loock,  Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 

Johan Vanderfaeillie, Researcher Vrije Universiteit Brussel ,Belgium  

The purpose of this study was to describe the support needs of grandparents who take care of their grandchildren in formal foster care, as perceived by themselves. One hundred and twenty five grandmothers were asked to describe their needs in response of the following question:  “What do you need to be a good foster parent for your grandchild(ren)?” In a second phase the unique responses of grandmothers were grouped together by 41 grandmothers, which were analysed using multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis. Furthermore grandmothers were asked to indicate the degree of importance of each statement on a Likert seven-point-scale. Twenty eight unique responses were grouped into 8 clusters. In descending order of importance these clusters referred to the parenting relationship with their grandchild, their parenting competencies, trust and support for the future, collaboration with the foster care agency, material conditions, social support from the wider context, respite care, and contact with the family of origin and with other foster parents. Their needs resemble the needs of regular foster parents, with the exception of some specific needs related to their specific situation, such as being aware of the living environment of their grandchild(ren), the need to find a good balance between their parental role and their role as a grandparent, and a reassuring vision for the future.

Key-words: custodial grandparent, support needs, concept mapping

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