Mothering for the state: Foster parenting and the challenges of government-contracted carework

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21 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article draws on ethnographic research with a nonprofit foster family agency to examine how payment affects caregivers' motivations and performance, as well as how state bureaucratic organization and professional supervision affect their carework. Findings suggest that contrary to conventional thought, economic interests and altruistic motives coexist for foster mothers. Although monetary compensation is a concern for these mostly working-class women, impetus for caring also stems from traditional gendered ideals of mothering, nurturing, and staying at home with their biological children. However, state regulations and rules (designed to protect children) intervene in foster mothers' parenting and private lives and undermine their intrinsic motivations and rewards. The conclusion reflects on what this case reveals about the challenges of paid carework, especially under conditions of government supervision and regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-587
Number of pages21
JournalGender and Society
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Keywords

  • Carework
  • Foster care
  • Social services
  • Work-family balance

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