Foster parents' experiences of using child mental health and welfare services in Norway: Associations with youth, placement, and service characteristics

Marit Larsen, Valborg Baste, Ragnhild Bjørknes, Kyrre Breivik, Trine Myrvold, Stine Lehmann - Child & Family Social Work


The measurement of user experience has gained international attention as a tool for improving quality of care. Because foster families have a high need for service support, we examined quality of care from the foster parent's perspective and associated characteristics. We collected information about type and frequency of service use in the last 2 years and standardized measures of user‐reported experiences and outcomes from foster parents of youths aged 11–18 years in Norway (= 290). We analysed the data using descriptive statistics, independent samples t‐tests and multiple regressions. Overall, foster parents had positive service experiences, and around half reported improvement in youth condition and function compared with before the service contact. The foster parents gave similar evaluations of child welfare services and specialized mental health services but indicated different strengths and weaknesses of the providers. Younger age, more frequent service contact and less waiting time were associated with positive service experiences, while less mental health problems and fewer years in current foster home were related to positive perceptions of outcomes. Our results indicate focus areas for increasing quality of care from the user perspective, for example, sharing information, cooperation between services, having frequent enough service contact and reducing waiting time.