Bridges between families. Contact and its meaning for foster children, foster parents and birth families

Carmen Hofer-Temmel
, Christina Rothdeutsch-Granzer


Contacts between foster children and their birth families are an essential element of a foster care relationship. (Direct) contacts create a connection between the children and their birth families and often pose a challenge to all involved. Experts differ in their opinions on how to shape these contacts. We investigated how direct contacts in foster care are seen by the involved parties: foster children, foster parents and birth parents. To this end, we did a multi-perspective qualitative investigation based on grounded theory. The resulting theoretical model (‘spin top model’) based on prior research and own results illustrates the processuality of direct contact. One essential research finding was that subjectively felt security and stability are a relevant factor for all involved parties relating to efficient contacts. The spin top model also shows the composition of an interaction between these and other relevant factors.

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