Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Pete Meagher


Foster care drift is the extended stay in foster care without attaining family reunification or permanency with another placement. When foster care youth experience foster care drift, they face the possibility of aging out of the foster care system. Interventions and policies have been implemented to aid family service workers during the process of permanency planning; however, a great number of foster care youth remain in care. This study explored the perceptions of social work professionals regarding foster care drift regarding issues and challenges that social workers engaged in foster care placement face regarding foster care drift. The ecological system theory provided the foundation for understanding the connection of social workers and the external systems surrounding them. An action research design was used to carry out this study. A focus group with family service workers in the southeastern region of the United States was conducted. Seven participants discussed foster care drift and developed possible solutions. Key findings from the study show 3 main themes: ineffective communication, unproductive parent education classes, and unhelpful allocation of agency funding. Possible solutions to decrease foster care drift include improving communication among workers and other agencies, improving parent education courses to include an independent living skills component, and allocating monetary resources to develop programs specific for foster care youth and their families. The findings of this study might effect social change by supporting a shift in focus of foster care services from out-of-home interventions to preventative services to promote family stability.

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