Social Work

Date of this version


Document Type



false allegations, foster care, foster parent stressors, foster parent retention, long-term fostering



This qualitative study explored the wisdom and expertise of 19 foster parents who averaged 20 years of fostering experience to learn their most formidable challenges while interacting with the child welfare system as well as sources of support. Phenomenological methods revealed patterns in foster parents’ shared experiences. Findings revealed two significant stressors linked to decision-making: 1) feeling disempowered and undervalued by child protection workers, and 2) coping with false allegations and the investigation process. System-level configuration of roles and power placed stakeholders in an adversarial rather than collaborative position. Their licensing social workers and other long-term foster parents were the strongest sources of support. Findings suggest that stressors may be alleviated with an inclusive and collaborative approach toward decision-making about child placement decisions, recurring trainings on the allegation process, assigning a support social worker during investigations, and cultivating an ongoing supportive community among foster parents.



Published in

Children and Youth Services Review

Citation/Other Information

Nesmith, A. (2020). False allegations and caseworker conflict: Stressors among long-term foster parents. Children and Youth Services Review, 118.