The psychosocial needs of children in foster care with a history of sexual abuse: Are they recognized?

Anne Steenbakkers, Ingunn Ellingsen, Stephanie van der Steen, Hans Grietens

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Youth in family foster care who have experienced sexual abuse have specific psychosocial needs. However, youth themselves are rarely asked about their needs, and it is unknown if caretakers recognize these needs as such. Using Q-methodology, this study aimed to describe what youth consider their most important needs and if foster parents and foster care professionals are aware of these needs. Participants consisted of 15 foster youth (17-25 years old) who reported a history of sexual abuse, and nine foster parents and seven foster care workers who reported having cared for youth who experienced sexual abuse. We constructed 45 index cards based on interviews, each card containing one psychosocial need. The 31 participants then sorted these cards in a set grid, ranging from ‘most important’ to ‘most unimportant’. Using the program PQMethod, principal component factor analyses with varimax rotations were performed on the sortings (by-person factor analysis). This resulted in factors in which participants who indicated similar important and unimportant needs were grouped together. The needs of the foster youth with a history of sexual abuse were grouped into 4 factors, which could be described as: ‘Help me process my past’, ‘I am working toward the future’, ‘I want to decide about my own life’, and ‘Professionals and foster parents should help me’. The sortings of the foster parents and foster care workers only matched the second and fourth factor, indicating that they recognized these two sets of foster youth’s needs, but not the other two. This is remarkable, since the participating foster youth did not differ from the youth that the foster parents and foster care workers reported on with regard to their demographics and foster care experiences, except for educational level and age. Caretakers can thus improve taking the perspectives of youth.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event15th ISPCAN European Regional Conference - World Forum, Den Haag, Netherlands
Duration: 1-Oct-20174-Oct-2017
Conference number: 15


Conference15th ISPCAN European Regional Conference
Abbreviated titleISPCAN European Conference
CityDen Haag
Internet address

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