University of New Hampshire
McNair Scholar, 2023
Major: English Literature
Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Moschella-Smith
Research Title: Understanding the Impacts of COVID-19 on Group Home Staff: The Role of Burnout and Secondary Traumatic Stress
At group homes for youth in the foster care system, staff members undertake a myriad of responsibilities (e.g. organizing day-to-day logistics, offering programs like counseling) and challenges (e.g. obtaining funding) due to the nature of the services provided. Group homes are often understaffed and underfunded, and staff report high rates of turnover and mental health issues, such as compassion fatigue and burnout. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of the challenges faced by group home staff, and further contributed to the high levels of burnout. Given that youth who do not receive proper care in group homes are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior and report low levels of self-esteem, it is important to address the needs of group home staff so they are able to care for youth more effectively. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected with group home staff across the state of New Hampshire to further understand the experiences of staff, including rates of compassion fatigue and job satisfaction, pandemic-related challenges, and suggestions to improve working conditions (e.g. support groups, training). Addressing the needs of group home staff may improve their ability to provide care for youth in the foster system.