Foster parenting the sexually abused child: The evaluation of two specialized parent education programs

Eileen Colette Treacy, Fordham University


This study evaluated the efficacy of two foster parent training curricula focused upon sexually abused foster children by examining the specific contribution of a behaviorally oriented parent training upon parental sexual abuse knowledge, comfort with child sexual behaviors, child and parent attitudes, and parental sense of competence in comparison to a more reflective, developmentally based knowledge intervention. One hundred and ten (110) foster mothers (M age = 45 years) from six counties in New York State were assigned to one of two training conditions (Parent-Focused versus Child-Focused) and received five sessions of training. These mothers were caring for a total of 290 children (172 foster, 64 adopted, 47 biological). Ninety (90) of the foster children had been documented to be sexually abused, while an additional 27 foster children were suspected to have been sexually abused. The study also examined child self-reports of perceptions of maternal acceptance for the children between the ages of 4-7 years living in the foster homes (N = 60). There was no indication that the behavioral approach to foster parent education was superior to a reflective approach as parents in both training conditions demonstrated improved scores in knowledge and comfort with sexual development and behaviors often associated with sexual abuse, parenting attitudes, and sense of competence at posttest. No significant differences emerged in analyses comparing sexually abused foster children's perceptions of maternal acceptance to other young children living in the foster homes. However, results do suggest a relationship between a child's sexual abuse history and its impact upon foster parenting attitudes.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Treacy, Eileen Colette, "Foster parenting the sexually abused child: The evaluation of two specialized parent education programs" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530045.