Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Political Science, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jean Schroedel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Heather Campbell

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Brian Hilton

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Charles A Varadin


Foster Care, Foster Parent Retention, Net Promoter Score, Public Policy, Satisfaction, Social Work

Subject Categories

Political Science | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Foster care is a vast social justice issue that impacts nearly every local community. Yet, it receives relatively little attention due, in part, to the low social constructs of many of the most affected groups (Schneider and Ingram 1997). Thus, it should come as no surprise that foster care and the child welfare system in California, and the United States in general, is in a crisis as more children enter the system than there are foster parents to care for them. Retention of quality foster parents reduces the need for recruitment and increases the likelihood of more stable placements with experienced foster parents, leading to better outcomes for children in foster care. Thus, it seems incumbent upon policymakers, practitioners, support professionals, researchers, and the like to help provide resources and support services that are needed, accessible, and effective; and essentially help reduce the cost that foster parents pay for their “community altruism. ”Accordingly, this research project fields survey data of foster parents licensed in San Bernardino County to identify sentiment among current foster parents of the barriers associated with their retention as foster parents, and to explore whether these perceptions change depending on whether they are relative or non-relative foster parents. The analysis then turns and uses logistic regression of the survey data to determine what resources and support services that best predict being satisfied and the retention of foster parents and whether these results change depending on the foster parent group (relative or non-relative). Finally, an exploratory spatial analysis uses a key support to determine if the results justify further investigation into the potential need for a more robust spatial decision-making process for social services associated with foster care. Access to their social workers is identified as a key support for both relative and non-relative foster parents and the one policymakers and practitioners have the most direct agency in leveraging. Mental health services are the most significant resource in the formal support category. Healthcare and social supports from other foster families and spouses/partners are more moderate in their significance but could benefit from further research. The results also indicate that significant differences exist between the relative and non-relative foster parent groups and justify developing different resource and support models for each. In exploratory analysis, a net-promoter score (NPS) tool was tested and found to provide a parsimonious metric that predicts both being satisfied and a desire to continue fostering. While more research is needed to confirm these results, the NPS tool could enable practitioners to use this “one-question” survey to obtain foster parent feedback on resources and support services quickly and more frequently, thereby enabling policymakers and practitioners to be more agile and responsive to the needs of foster parents. This would give foster parents a greater voice into the resources that best support their changing needs and circumstances. Finally, including spatial utility and spatial policy considerations may be an area of untapped potential for improving resource allocation, distribution, and utilization of foster parents.