Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Sharon Xuereb


Placement disruptions for youths placed in foster care have been the focus of multiple studies due to the negative and long-lasting impacts on these vulnerable youths. The purpose of this interpretative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of placement disruptions from the foster parent’s perspective to gain further understanding of potential causes of placement disruptions and what may be helpful to prevent them. The study was based on the lens of attachment theory. Data were collected from interviews with six participants recruited on social media who were licensed in the State of Washington for at least 1 year and had experienced at least three placement disruptions. Interviews were completed by phone or online. Five themes emerged from the interpretative phenomenological analysis: foster parent support, communication, foster parent training, youth and foster parent trauma, and building relationships and connections. Results indicated that providing specific foster parent supports and education, allowing foster parents to be heard and be part of the decision-making team, and positive communication with birth parents leading to connections with youths helped to mitigate placement disruptions. Social workers’ turnover had an impact on placement stability and relationships between social workers, foster parents, and youths. Findings may be used to reduce placement disruptions and effect positive social change for youths, foster parents, and child welfare agencies.