The Effects of Parenting on Well-Being in Families Reunited After Foster Care
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Child maltreatment is a costly social problem that carries with it significant risk of poor outcomes across the lifespan. There is a large body of research on risk and protective factors associated with child maltreatment. However, there is a significant gap in the literature on family functioning after children are reunified with their families. The current study proposed a conceptual model of family functioning based on a socioecological perspective. Hypotheses related to the effects of parenting on well-being were tested using a series of structural equation models. Results indicated modest support for the directional effects of improved parenting on parental well-being and the importance of social support for these families. Overall, this study points to the necessity of continued interaction with families after reunification and the importance of a multi-dimensional perspective. Many mothers continued to struggle with substance use months after reunification, indicating the need for long-term interventions and continued assessment of family well-being. The current study provides data to support changes in public policy and practice which would emphasize continuing long-term service provision. In particular, these families are likely to benefit most from empirically-supported parent training and the development of social support skill-building.