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Bethel professor to present seminar on foster parents and child welfare

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, associate professor of social work at Bethel College, will present "Walking a Tightrope: Foster Parents in Concurrent Planning" for the next Bethel College faculty seminar at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 7, in the Administration Building Chapel on the Bethel College campus. Schmidt-Tieszen’s presentation will describe the results of a qualitative study involving interviews with foster families on "concurrent planning," an innovative child welfare strategy.

Schmidt-Tieszen’s study of concurrent planning, which she did for her dissertation research, involved interviewing foster families in Colorado who worked simultaneously to reunite the children in their care with families of origin while at the same time preparing to adopt the child if reunification did not work.

"Working in these two directions at the same time, or concurrent planning, is potentially very difficult," Schmidt-Tieszen said, "thus like ‘walking a tightrope.’ It’s an approach that is fairly new but is used more frequently in other parts of the country as a way to move children towards permanency more quickly. The new child welfare contracts in Kansas have set the stage for increased use of this strategy in this state as well."

In her presentation, Schmidt-Tieszen will use stories and excerpts from foster parent narratives to answer these questions: What were foster parents’ motivations for involvement and how did these influence outcomes? What patterns emerged in the foster parents’ experiences with the strategy? What can social workers do to assist foster parents in coping with the uncertainties, and the potential grief of loss if their foster children leave the home?

Schmidt-Tieszen, who has a master’s of social work from the University of Denver and a PhD in social work from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, has taught at Bethel College since 1985.

The faculty seminar series at Bethel College provides a forum for faculty to present results of recent study or research. Admission is free and open to the public.

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