Foster Care System Final Essay Essay
Foster Care System: Children without families SOC 331: Social Justice and Ethics Bernie Colon November 14, 2011 Raising children is one of the most important responsibilities in any society. Today, working parents have many options, but what about those children who have neither a mother nor father? What about those children who come from broken and abusive homes? In such cases there are often few choices. Parentless children may be placed in orphanages or in foster homes. Ideally, foster care offers children more personalized attention than would normally be available at a public or private situation.
However, orphanage care is notoriously uneven. While some children are indeed in loving homes, others find themselves neglected or even worse. Though many foster parents are conscientious and caring, there are many who are not. Some are in it only for the money, although, others have good intentions and motives. A problem as well, is that many children in foster care are continually moved from home to home, thus establishing no real bond with their foster parents. Children, especially young children, require a stable environment.
A foster parent is, in effect, a surrogate parent. And like other parents, foster mothers and fathers serve as role models for their children. A role model can be a positive influence, but depending on the role model he/she could be a negative influence. There are many reasons why children in Foster care require more attention than other children. Large numbers of these children have moderate to severe behavioral problems. The nature of these problems varies, but often includes drug abuse, disciplinary problems, and various issues of sexual freedom.
The protection and nurturance of children is a universal goal shared by all human cultures. Children thrive best when they live in safe, stable, and nurturing families. However, many children in the United States lack this type of home environment. For these children whose families are not safe havens, a caring society needs to find alternative foster care placements. Foster care refers to the system that provides protection for minor children who are unable to live with their biological parents. Currently there are over 500,000 children in foster care in the United States.
The goal of the foster care system is to provide abused and neglected children with an environment of safety, permanency, and nurturance. Removal from their homes and placement into a foster care setting is both difficult and stressful for children. Although they come into foster care because of their exposure to serious abuse and maltreatment, family problems, and any number of risk factors, many children struggle with feelings of guilt and blame for being removed from their homes. Many children also experience a sense of confusion, anxiety, stress, and loss.
In addition, they may feel unwanted and helpless about their placement in a foster care setting; they may have difficulty attaching themselves to the many different foster parents they encounter as they move from one placement to another; and they may be insecure about their future. Prolonged and multiple foster care placements can contribute to negative outcomes for some of these children. For example, children especially adolescents who have been in foster care for an extended time have difficulty developing self-sufficiency and independence in adulthood.
Children need consistency, connectedness, and a sense of belonging to have a successful, healthy development. Providing a safe, stable, nurturing environment can bolster resilience and the short- and long-term adjustment of children. The foster care system provides only a temporary living arrangement for vulnerable children to ensure their safety and well-being. Children remain in foster care placements until the problems that caused their removal are solved. Decisions made about the future for foster care children are called “permanency planning. ” A successful resolution enables children to return home.
However, if no successful resolution to the problem occurs, the court may terminate parental rights and free the children for adoption, or else provide long-term care with foster parents or relatives. Fortunately, more than half of children in the foster care system get reunited with their birth parents or primary caregivers. In addition, more than 2 million children live with grandparents or other relatives because they were not able to return to live with their parents. Approximately half of the children in foster care spend at least 2 years in the system and one in five children remains in the system for 5 years or more.
Some children in foster care move between families as many as seven times during their stay. The number of children in the foster care system continues to increase. While the foster care system is essential in helping abused, abandoned, and neglected children, many children remain in foster care for long periods of time when family reunification or adoption is planned. Court delays can often extend the time between when children enter the foster care system and when they are placed into permanent homes. Significant differences exist in the quality of care and outcomes for children depending on their race and ethnicity.
The percentage of children of color in the foster care system is larger than the percentage of children of color among the general U. S. population. However, the occurrence of child abuse and neglect is at about the same rate in all racial/ethnic groups. History of the Foster Care System In the mid 19th century, some 30,000 homeless or neglected children lived in New York City streets and slums. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children.
By removing youngsters from city streets and placing them in farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering. He proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms in the Midwest and West. The resulting Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900s, and transported more than 120,000 children to new lives. In the early 1990s, Children’s Aid pioneered Concurrent Planning, a foster care approach that became the basis for the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, and which greatly changed foster care.
Through Concurrent Planning, Children’s Aid works simultaneously with birth parents and foster parents to achieve permanency for children as quickly as possible. Our first priority is to return children safely to their own families. If that proves impossible, however, we make sure that foster families are prepared to adopt them. “Our approach works: 90 percent of the children we serve who are not reunified with their birth families are adopted by their foster families. For the remaining 10 percent, we find loving homes through our Adoption Program” (Children’s Aid Society).
Mission Statement of Foster Care Systems, Non-Profit Organizations “Child Placement and Supportive Services: The mission of CPSS is to provide safe, permanent and nurturing families within the child’s own community by maintaining connections; thereby minimizing trauma and/or harm. To utilize one placement until permanency is achieved; to maintain quality of life by linking families to and/or with community resources; to develop partnerships between agencies, families, child and foster parents, to achieve permanence within a year” (Newton Rae N. , Litrownik Alan J. Landsverk John, A). Financial reports/summaries of the operations of Foster Care System “The Federal government provides tremendous financial incentives to maintain foster care programs. One Federal program that helps states cover the cost of foster care grew from about $300 million in 1981 to nearly $2. 7 billion in 1991. According to the General Accounting Office, in 1993 nearly $1. 3 billion Federal dollars went to foster care maintenance, while an additional $1. 1 billion in reimbursements went to states for foster care related administrative activities” (Thoma, 2002).
The financial report of the foster care agency shows that the government is the main sponsor of all the funds that are used in the maintenance of foster care systems. The amount that is disbursed for the support of foster care agency has been raised up to $30 billion per year. This amount is distributed among the foster families under the foster care agency to ensure that the activities of the foster children are made to run smoothly (Thoma, 2002). The agency uses more than $20. 3 billion from the federal contribution towards maintenance of the foster care services.
A lower amount is spent on administrative activities such as record keeping and inspection of the procedures that are carried out in the foster care agency. There are other budgetary allocations that are aimed at settling foster children welfare regardless of the health status of the individual. Each state is allocated $3 billion which is supposed to cater for all the needs of foster children in each state though some states have more homeless children than others. However, this amount is predicted to increase as the cost of caring for foster children raises in the near future.
This is attributed to the fact that it costs more to raise children in foster homes that if the child was being reared by their biological parents (Thoma, 2002). Claims and Caseload History for Title IV-E Foster Care States’ Foster Care Claims — Federal Funds (excluding SACWIS) per IV-E Child (average of fiscal years 2001 to 2003 Foster Care System and the Criminal Justice System The foster care system though deeply engraved in history has failed to maintain its effectiveness especially in reducing the number of crimes that are committed by the children who are kicked out of their foster homes after aging out.
Similarly, according to recent research there has been a higher number of runaway youth’s straight form foster homes who gradually transform into street boys who engage in social evils to meet their needs (Clark Hewitt B. , Lee, Barbara, Prange Mark E. , McDonald Beth A. ). The rise in homeless children who have previously been in the foster homes is attributed to that fact that most foster homes do not provide adequate family environments coupled with counseling and availability of drugs hence making it difficult to fit in. he foster care system interacts with the criminal justice system in various dimensions which are aimed at reducing juvenile crime. The major cause of such crimes includes poor preparation of the aging foster children who are expected to demonstrate a high degree of maturity once they turn 18. However, as most foster care homes are not equipped with such services, the homeless youths tend to engage in all forms of evil hence end up on the criminal justice list.
Lack of life skills after the aging out in the foster care homes leaves many previous occupants of the homes with poor social and citizenly attributes and the number of crimes committed by juveniles continues to increase (Smith, 2011). “In the interaction of the foster care system with the criminal justice system, the degree of crimes that are carried out by individuals who have previously been in the foster homes is aggravated by increased emotional stability as the children move from one home to the other” (Dolgoff, R. amp; Feldstein, D). This has been counteracted over the years by the fact that most foster homes are asked to maintain stability hence no endless shifting of homes or schools. Such a tradition has been known to increase the sense of belonging with the foster children getting more attached to the immediate foster family hence fewer chances of doing evil. The foster care agency has teamed with the ministry of education to enhance the number of independent aging foster children who are leaving the foster homes.
These children are subjected to vocational training and educational programs which arm them with necessary skills that make life easier after the release from foster homes. This has been a major element in the interaction with the criminal justice system where rehabilitation and vocational training for those caught in crime are subjected. Hence juvenile crimes are reduced through this collaborative interaction (Clark Hewitt B. , Lee, Barbara, Prange Mark E. , McDonald Beth A). Children come to foster care for a number of reasons.
In many cases, they have suffered physical or sexual abuse, or neglect at home, and are placed in a safe environment. A small percentage of children are in foster care because their parents feel unable to control them, and their behavior may have led to delinquency or fear of harm to others. Some children have been neglected by their parents or legal guardians, or have parents or legal guardians who are unable to take care of them because of substance abuse, incarceration, or mental health problems. These children are placed into custodial care while the parents or guardians receive treatment or counseling, or fulfill their sentences.
In all foster care cases, the child’s biological or adoptive parents, or other legal guardians, temporarily give up legal custody of the child. A child may be placed in foster care with the parents’ consent. In a clear case of abuse or neglect, a court can order a child into foster care without the parents’ or guardians’ consent. Foster care does not necessarily mean care by strangers. If a government agency decides a child must be removed from the home, the child may be placed with relatives or with a family friend. Children may also be placed in a group home, where several foster children live together with a staff of caregivers.
Therapeutic or treatment foster care can be in a group home or foster home with a specific structure and treatment focus. Foster homes are the most well-known option. The child temporarily becomes a part of another family, either with other foster children, the family’s biological or adoptive children, or alone. State or county social service agencies oversee foster care decisions, although they may also work with private foundations. Foster parents must be licensed by the agency that handles a specific region’s foster care.
The foster home must pass an inspection for health and safety and, in most states; the parents must attend training sessions covering issues of how to deal with problems. When a child is placed, the foster family takes responsibility for feeding and clothing the child, getting the child to school and to appointments, and doing any of the usual things a child’s parents or legal guardians might be called to do. The foster parents might also need to meet with the foster child’s therapist and will meet regularly with the child’s caseworker as well.
The foster parent aims to help the foster child develop normally in a safe, family environment. Foster parents usually receive money for taking in foster children. They are expected to use the money to buy the child’s food, clothing, school supplies, and other incidentals. Most of the foster parent’s responsibilities toward the foster child are clearly defined in a legal contract. Foster parents do not become the guardians of foster children; legal guardianship remains with the state agency. Foster placements may last for a single day or several weeks; some continue for years.
If the parents give up their rights permanently, or their rights to their child are severed by the court, the foster family may adopt the foster child or the child may be placed for adoption by strangers. Foster parenting is meant to be an in-between stage, while a permanent placement for the child is settled. As such, it is stressful and uncertain, but for many families very necessary. My mother is a single foster parent and currently has five children in her care. All of the children except one of them have mental illnesses.
They are in weekly therapy sessions and are on prescribed medications to help cope with their behavior issues. My mother has to take them each week and sometimes she has to sit in on their sessions. She has monthly meetings at her house with the children’s case workers, she has to keep all the children up to date with shots, doctor visits and dentist appointments. Three of the children are drug babies (the mother was using drugs while pregnant with them). Four of the five children are brother and sisters, my mother didn’t want to separate them so she took them all in.
They range from the age of 3-17 years of age both boys and girls. Unfortunately, not all brother and sister’s have this chance to remain together and they are separated, some children are never placed back in the home with their parent(s) and they never have a relationship with their siblings and, get the option and chance to know who they are. Rather it’s because they are all placed in different cities, adopted out and it’s the choice of the parent(s) or it’s a court order against the children to have contact with their siblings for reasons within themselves.
Their mother has approximately one more week to get her act in order and get furnished housing for her and her children or she will lose all rights to her children forever and they then are placed for adoption. She currently is doing supervised visits and hopefully for the children’s well being (mentally and emotionally) the mother can escalate toward overnight unsupervised and weekend visits with her children. They have currently been out of her care for 1 year and 11 months. In the state my mother lives, the law gives the parent 2 years to straighten up and get their children back.
My mother hasn’t currently adopted any children although, the fifth child she has that isn’t related to the other children in her care she is in the process of adopting. Two children she had before she was going to adopt but under circumstances that happened due to their behavior they were placed in group home facilities and taken off the adoption list. Even if the children do get to go back under the care of their mother, they mentally and emotionally will never be the same. I believe even the 3 year old will have memories and emotional distress throughout her entire life.
Any child who is taken away from their parent(s) is going to have emotional and mental issues. They are going to be traumatized. I do believe a lot of children placed in the foster care system will go through many years of therapy even as an adult to help with the emotional scaring they endured throughout their life. Children in foster care systems that may not have any mental illnesses overtime struggle emotionally, they act out, become rebellious and depressed. Even if they are in a loving and caring home it’s not the same as being in the home with your birth parent(s).
They are longing for that connection and that genuine motherly/fatherly love. “Recently, professional and political concern has grown about the severity and types of problems experienced by young people in the care system, this group being one of the most vulnerable in terms of psychological disturbance. Their risk of psychiatric ill health is higher than that of any other easily identified group in our society, and studies have consistently identified a high incidence of behavioral problems.
No study has systematically examined the psychiatric disorders of adolescents being looked after by local authorities, so we aimed to assess the prevalence and types of psychiatric disorder among adolescents in the care system and compare them with those of a comparison group of adolescents” (Mccann Jacinta, B. , James Anthony, Dunn Graham). Unfortunately not all foster homes are good homes, some foster parents only do it for the money and they don’t care for and tend to the child(ren) the way they properly should. They neglect them and in some cases the children are in worst or as bad of situations as they were under their parent(s) care.
Some children in foster care are abused mentally, physically, and emotionally. Money that is paid to foster parents is to be used to provide for the children monthly IE: food, clothing, activities etc. Some foster kids are lucky to get anything, compared to other children don’t want and/or need for anything. They are provided for above and beyond all means. In the case with my mother yes, she does receive monthly checks for each of the children she cars for but, it doesn’t cover the monthly expense for each child fully.
She has a 17 year old young man who is on the high school foot ball team so paying for his uniform, fees, dances etc. None of this is including food, shelter, utilities, shoes, clothing etc. So, my mother definitely does this because, she has a great heart and she wants to be able to provide as many children as she can with a loving home, a great life and a second chance. There are news stories across the United States about foster parents locking foster children in cages, starving them, kicking them out on the streets but still collecting the monthly check the state provides.
A lot of these situations make the foster care system and case workers look a lot worse then what it really is. Not everyone is a good foster parent(s) but there are a lot of great parent(s) that are providing a great home, safety, love and shown the real meaning of family. In conclusion, Yes, there are a lot of pros and cons to the foster care system and the children in the foster care system but, in the end all children deserve to be provided for, loved, cared for and given the emotional connection and bond to a loving adult whom they feel and know they can trust and are safe with.
Not everyone is fit to be a foster parent and unfortunately there are a lot of undeserving parents who have their license’s to care for children but, there are great homes and great care providers for a lot of children. The foster care system is a great system and it helps place a lot of children who have nowhere and no one to turn to. Dolgoff, R. ; Feldstein, D. (2009). Understanding social welfare: A search for social justice (8th ed. ). Mccann Jacinta, B. , James Anthony, Dunn Graham. (1996). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in young people in the care system. Retrieved October 29, 2011 from, http://www. bmj. om/content/313/7071/1529. extract. Newton Rae N. , Litrownik Alan J. , Landsverk John, A. (2000). Children and youth in foster care: disentangling the relationship between problem behaviors and number of placements. Retrieved October 28, 2011 from, http://www. sciencedirect. com/science/article/pii/S0145213400001897. The Children’s Aid Society. 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011 from, http://www. childrensaidsociety. org/adoption-foster-care/foster-care-history-accomplishments Thoma, Rick. 2002. A Critical Look At The Foster Care System Foster Care Financing. Retrieved November 5, 2011 from, http://liftingtheveil. org/foster05. htm