Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Social Work

First Advisor

Jennifer Farley, PhD, LMSW, RPT-S, ECMH-R

Second Advisor

Jillian Graves, PhD, LMSW

Third Advisor

Jennifer Kellman-Fritz, PhD, LMSW


Birth parenting time between children in foster care and their biological parents are often thought of as a standard path toward achieving reunification (Browne & Moloney, 2002; Haight et al., 2003). The overall goal of parenting time is to create space for both the parent and child to have positive parent-child interactions and either work towards or maintain a healthy parentchild relationship. However, birth parenting times can be stressful for the parent, child, foster parent, and the foster care caseworker. To facilitate optimal parenting times, evidenced-based practices recommended foster care workers utilize a relationship-based approach when supervising parenting time. However, there is limited research on what relationship-based strategies are used or effective during the birth parenting times. Therefore, this mixed-method study aims to explore the perceptions of foster care caseworkers on birth parents with children in foster care, the relationships between birth parents and caseworkers, and the supports that caseworkers have when working with birth parents. A total of five foster care caseworkers at a Midwest foster care agency participated in this study and completed both an interview and a survey. Results from interviews highlighted the acknowledgement of the barriers birth parents face along with their strengths. Results emphasized the importance of caseworkers developing relationships with birth parents and tailoring services to meet their needs. Additionally, caseworkers reported being open and honest when communicating, which helps the birth parents feel supported and more comfortable. A majority of caseworkers reported finding their caseload somewhat manageable, and all caseworkers reported feeling confident in facilitating birth parenting times. Finally, a variety of inner agency supports were identified by caseworkers that helped support their work with birth parents. Further research along with practice implications will also be discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons