Foster caring in an era of COVID-19: the impact on personal self-care

Justin Jay Miller, Erlene Grise-Owens - Adoption & Fostering


COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected all caregivers, including foster carers. Despite the importance of self-care in assuaging the impact of the pandemic, there is a dearth of research on this topic, and virtually nothing specific to this important group. This study uses a retrospective pre/post design to measure the impact of the pandemic on foster carers’ self-care. An invitation to participate in an electronic survey was circulated among carers in a US state and a snowball sample of 1229 compiled. Analyses of their replies revealed significant decreases in self-care practices in the months following the start of the pandemic. Disaggregation of the post self-care scores showed that foster carers who were married, not employed outside their home, reported good mental and physical health and were financially stable exhibited higher levels of self-care compared to their peers. Furthermore, hierarchical regression analysis showed that three factors – age, financial security and mental health status – were the strongest determinants of post-care practices. The findings suggest the need for concerted efforts by foster care agencies to conceptualise, implement and evaluate initiatives aimed at the self-care and wellness of carers during the COVID-19 pandemic.