I just read a study from the Child Welfare Information Gateway that says:
Median length of service in foster parenting ranged from 8 to 14 months across the three states, suggesting that many children's placements in foster care are longer than the typical foster parent career.
Where I live there is a very high turnover of foster parents. All the time people tell me they were foster parents, but that they are no longer foster parents. Most of them did it for just a year or two.
The people who did the study thought foster parents quit because the children were so challenging. But that's unlikely. See:
A working hypothesis at the outset of this study was that foster parents exit the system after being exhausted by high levels of placements in their homes and the demands of children in their care. This theory was not supported by the data. Higher foster home occupancy and higher levels of care for infants, adolescents, and children with special needs were consistently associated with greater lengths of service.
I believe it's far more likely that foster parents quit because they get tired of the system. They get tired of being lied to or emotionally manipulated. They get tired of being taken for granted and being ignored. Or for some, they adopt and then they're done with the system. If they choose to adopt more children, they go another route and do not do foster-adopt again.
The ones who hang in there seem to develop some strategies so they don't have to interact with the system as much. They are less engaged in the process. They don't go to as many court hearings or meetings or visitations. Instead they have the case workers transport the children.
What do you think? Do you see this trend?
If you're a long-term foster parent, what strategies do you employ for avoiding burn-out?
Here's the link to the study: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/05/foster-parenting/#Summary