DATA TALKS: A survey examining public awareness and perceptions of foster care in Massachusetts
At any given moment, there are around 400,000 children experiencing foster care in the United States — and 8,000-9,000 of them are here in Massachusetts. But with only about 5,500 licensed foster parents statewide, we’re facing a hard truth: not every child who goes through the trauma of being removed from their home will have a safe, loving foster home readily available. More foster parents are needed in Massachusetts.
As the largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive foster care in the state, HopeWell is leading this charge. We believe that to work toward effectively solving this challenge, we need to first understand it. That is why HopeWell commissioned a statewide survey of Massachusetts residents on the topics of foster care and foster parenting. What does the public know about foster care? What misconceptions are floating around out there? What are the barriers to people becoming foster parents?
Survey respondents were Massachusetts residents ages 25-64 and mirrored statewide demographics, such as gender, race/ethnicity, religion, political views, and more. The survey found a widespread lack of familiarity with foster care in Massachusetts — at the outset, less than half of respondents could identify the correct definition of foster care.
However, once people were provided with information about what is asked of foster parents and what supports are available, interest in becoming a foster parent grew by more than 60 percent! Among those who had never fostered before, more than one-third said they would very seriously or somewhat seriously consider becoming a foster parent. If this were expanded statewide, and if even a fraction of people who became more willing to foster took the next step, the state’s shortage of foster parents would be solved — and every child experiencing foster care in Massachusetts would have a safe, loving place to go when they need it most.
Use the arrows on the image below to take a more in-depth look at survey results.
You can find the press release for this survey here.
View these results as a PDF here.
We need loving people from all backgrounds who are willing to wrap these kids in love at a time when they desperately need it. Fostering is not for everyone. But for those with a big heart who want to parent a child, it can be incredibly rewarding.
We know we have many caring residents in Massachusetts who are parents or who would love to be a parent. Through the results of this poll, we can concentrate our efforts around education and showcasing the real positive relationships that can form through fostering.