The empirical ties between religious motivation and altruism in foster parents: Implications for faith-based initiatives in foster care and adoption


Amidst a crisis shortage of foster homes in the child welfare system, a number of innovative faith-based collaborations aimed at recruiting foster parents have recently emerged. It has been suggested that these collaborations offer a unique opportunity to recruit committed and altruistic parents as caregivers, providing much needed capacity to an overloaded child welfare system. This paper usesdata from the National Survey of Current and Former Foster Parents to examine the associations between religious motivations for fostering, altruism and various measures of foster home utilization and longevity. The empirical results demonstrate that religiously motivated foster parents are more likely to have altruistic reasons for fostering, and scored higher than the non-religiously motivated group on an index of altruism. A separate empirical analysis shows that the interaction of high levels of altruism and religious motivation is associated with higher foster home utilization. No association was found between religious altruism and the parent's expressed intent to continue providing foster care. The implications of these findings for current faith-based collaboration in the child welfare arena are discussed. © 2014 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

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