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Negotiating Foster-Families: Identification and Desire

Damien W. Riggs, Paul H. Delfabbro and Martha Augoustinos
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 39, No. 5 (2009), pp. 789-806
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23724000
Page Count: 18
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Negotiating Foster-Families: Identification and Desire
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Abstract

Foster care systems across Australia are widely recognised as being 'in crisis'. Problems of both supply (a lack of appropriate placements for children) and demand (increasing numbers of child protection notifications) are central to this crisis. Addressing these problems requires an approach to social work practice that encourages greater support for existing foster carers, and that in so doing, helps to attract new carers to the system. One of the ways in which this may be achieved is through an emphasis on foster care as a form of family based care that holds the potential to meet the needs not only of children, but of adults seeking to engage in familial relationships with children. Drawing upon a psychoanalytically-informed approach to social work, this paper presents and analyses data from a national research project examining existing Australian foster carers' experiences of care provision. The results demonstrate that despite considerable adversity (which often takes the shape of foster families not being recognised as such), foster carers continue to form unique, supportive families with children. Implications are drawn from this for a social work practice that acknowledges diversity in family forms and which validates the identifications and desires that circulate within foster families.

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