A POPULATION IGNORED: FOSTER PARENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF GIFTEDNESS AND ITS ROLE IN THE EXPERIENCES OF YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE
thesisposted on 12.08.2021, 12:41 authored by Alissa P CressAlissa P Cress
In this dissertation, I sought to understand foster parents’ perceptions of giftedness, how foster children’s strengths, gifts, and talents affect their experiences and those of their foster parents, and what resources and information foster parents have for supporting their foster children’s education and gifts. To understand these beliefs, I analyzed quantitative and qualitative survey data from 53 foster parents throughout the United States and analyzed interviews from 14 of those foster parents. Most foster parents surveyed perceived their foster children as a little or very different academically and in other ways than their peers not in foster care, and perceived they had different educational experiences than their peers, largely attributed to their lived experiences prior to entering and during foster care. Most participants felt their foster children’s abilities, strengths, and talents affected foster parents a little or very much. Interviewed and surveyed foster parents defined giftedness as including the following attributes: academic achievement, natural ability or innate talent, intelligence, domain-specific capabilities, performance or skills above average for their age or above their peers, unique approaches to learning, and motivation for learning. Interviewees also addressed non-academic forms of giftedness, socioemotional characteristics of children with gifts and talents, and noted that these students may have some difficulties in school. Foster parents explained the adaptations they have made to their parenting because of their foster children’s strengths, talents, and abilities, and highlighted the unique life experiences of foster children, which were not only hinderances but also could help them succeed academically and in life. Participants also expressed why they think foster children are not identified for gifted education programming. Foster parents had many needs related to their foster children’s education and strengths, talents, and abilities. They made recommendations to those who train new foster parents and provide ongoing training to current foster parents; to schools and teachers of foster children; and to new foster parents about how to best meet the needs of foster children and encourage their gifts and talents.