Single forster mothers' perceptions of alternative father figures for children in foster care
De Wet, Judy
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This study seeks to advance the knowledge of social workers and other professionals regarding single foster mothers’ perceptions of alternative father figures in the lives of foster children. Many foster children are being placed in foster care with single foster mothers, creating a need for an alternative father figure (Foster Care Statistics, 2013). Previous studies have failed to address the topic of alternative father figures with participants such as single foster mothers. Limited research has been done in general with single foster mothers from a South African perspective. Therefore, the study was focused on single foster mothers’ perceptions of alternative father figures in the lives of foster children. Data were obtained through a qualitative design, making use of the semi-structured interview. Interviews were done with the 17 participants in the comfort of their own homes to ensure confidentiality. Some were from a rural area and others were from semi-rural areas. By conducting this study, knowledge was gained as to who can be seen as an alternative father figure as well as the value of such a person. This paper provides a deeper understanding of the 17 single foster mother participants from the Sebokeng area, within a South African context. The findings revealed that the single foster mothers also perceive themselves as assuming the role of an alternative father figure in the lives of the foster children. This means that these participants are less likely to accept an alternative father figure into their lives and in return leaves the single foster mother responsible for all the foster child’s needs. It was also found that the single foster mothers’ perceptions of an alternative father figure as someone who is responsible for the foster child’s financial needs as well as all matters related to discipline. Therefore, a person can only be seen as an alternative father figure if such a person takes on the financial and discipline roles within a foster family. The findings also revealed that an alternative father figure should not be defined by gender, but rather by the roles they play in the children’s life. That is why according Section 1 – Introduction to the findings a female can also be seen as an alternative father figure. The value of an alternative father figure will differ from person to person, as the foster mothers perceived themselves as highly valued as the alternative father figures in the lives of the foster children, however, they feel that an additional alternative father figure has no value, as they are already fulfilling the role of both a mother and a father.
- Health Sciences