Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Foster children-Education, Foster children-Psychology, Education-Psychological aspects, Post-traumatic stress disorder in children, Trauma theory, Systems theory


Foster children face a range of difficulties in the school setting, yet the solutions that are most frequently proposed to remedy these issues place the responsibility for improvement in the hands of child welfare workers and the larger social service system. This thesis suggests a model for understanding, analyzing, and addressing the challenges experienced by foster children in schools through the frameworks of trauma theory and systems theory. Trauma theory is used to consider the trauma-related symptom formation that appears in the school setting with an emphasis on understanding the affect beneath the behavior. Systems theory is used to consider the child's functioning within the influential context of the school and his or her interactions with the members of the school system. The strengths of each of these theories in relation to working with foster children are drawn out to formulate an integrative model for initiating a positive change in both the child and the child's social system. This integrative model highlights the important role that all members of the child's system play in improving the foster child's educational outcome, and points to the necessity of altering internalized beliefs, providing support, facilitating positive communication, and effective collaboration between foster parents and school faculty members.




iii, 137 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 123-137)