Doctor of Ministry

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Galvez de Figueroa, Luz

Second Reader

Jeanine Parolini; Kate Scorgie


The researcher sought to understand how to effectively support foster parents in order to prevent burnout. As a result, the researcher explored a theology of foster care, reviewed current literature on how foster parents develop family life, face unique stressors, experience burnout, and benefit from support strategies, and conducted a qualitative case study to learn how foster parents described their personal experiences with these phenomena in order to identify best practices for how to effectively support foster parents. The researcher implemented a qualitative mixed-methods design in order to identify the essence of foster parents’ experiences. Participants were identified by contacting leaders of foster parent support groups that met in Minnesota churches. Thirty-nine individuals completed the online survey. Family life was described with a wide variety of phrases which accentuated the complex nature of foster parenting. Responses emphasized the need for family life to be flexible or adaptable and characterized by patience, unconditional love, and resiliency. Participants agreed that caring for foster children was harder or more complex than normative experiences of parenting due to multiple parties’ involvement and the child’s history of trauma, abuse, or neglect. The average participant struggled to prioritize self-care. They were grateful for community support and ranked trainings, mentorship, respite care, and support groups as most helpful. They reported a need for more respite caregivers, support groups, retreats, mentorship, and therapy. Support strategies were perceived as most valuable when the volunteer came to them because it was difficult to add more into their busy schedule. Also, support was most appreciated when it emerged from consistent, trusted relationship. The researcher recommended that churches listen to participants’ requests for increased education and awareness around foster care issues within the church. Churches should also continue hosting support groups. Other recommendations included meals, donations, childcare, encouragement, mentorship, and prayer.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis