“Currently, the Foster Care system is home to 442,995 youth children across the United States. This number has been on a steady rise for five years due to a subsequent increase in child abuse most specifically drug abuse rising from 32 percent to 34 percent as of 2016 (AFC 3). With more children entering the foster care system than exiting, financial aid for continuing the program are heavily needed. These funds ought to come from the United States, however with the total expenditure already totaling $930 million, increasing funding to Foster Care system is starting to become less feasible (AFC 4). One of the feasible ways to reduce this drastic cost is through an increase in adoption rates. With the adoption rates not par with the number of children entering the care and the retention rates for adoption being as low as a year, the government will have to face a net deficit of disproportionately more children entering the program than leaving. Thus, before continuing to fund the foster care system it is imperative to evaluate the current system in terms of its effectiveness through a cost-benefit analysis model.
Continuing to fund a failed foster care system will lead to disastrous implications throughout the United States. Through carefully evaluating the current system and finding the source of the problem leading the system to fail,while focusing on the area where increased funding will improve the program overall. Foster care was established intending to provide for children who have either no parents or have been facing abuse in their respective households. The goal of foster care has always been to make sure these unfortunate children find families that are willing to accept and take care of them. However, the foster care system has been willfully failing at this goal as there are more children entering the foster care system than effectively leaving. In fact, even those who are getting adopted by foster parents tend to have retention rates as low as a year. The problem essentially arises in taking care of a mass influx of children entering the system every year, a number which has slowly risen to 270,000 children and essentially growing due to a trend in higher rates of abuse/neglect (Bartholet 15).
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The broad-scale conclusions of these numbers and facts mean children are spending more time in the foster care system. This noticeable trend can effectively be seen with the mean exiting age climbing up to 8.4 years while the mean entry age remains stagnant at 7.1 years. Despite contrary belief, more time in the foster care system is not essentially good for foster children as children most of the age 7-8 years need parents to guide them to form values and create strong affiliations of love. This age group has specifically been regarded as a key point in the child’s social and cognitive development which is incomplete without supportive parents (Bass 20). Evaluating the data of children ‘grown out’ of foster care helps one understand the social impact of the system. Children/ Adults who have ‘grown out’ of the foster care system tend to show high rates of incarceration, drug abuse, and gang-related activities. These results of adult foster care children stem from improper cognitive and social development of the individuals due to lacking experience in positive family dynamics. It partly also stem from the cycles of poverty resorting individuals to criminal activities. The overall evidence presented validates the government and the foster care system’s role to find families for foster children rather than retaining or even increasing the number of children within the system.
In order to decrease the number of children in the foster care system, it is imperative to increase both adoption rates and retention rates of foster parents. This in fact would not only be socially better for the children but would also dramatically decrease the cost of the Foster Care system at the state and national levels. While comparing the cost of state subsidized adoption and maintaining a child in a foster care system, the child adopted costs the public 40 percent less leading to a difference of $15,480 per child annually. Increasing the rate of adoption will lead to greater savings overtime. Lowering poverty rates among children that are adopted would lead to long term savings for the foster care system. According to the National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP) and the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) households that have adopted foster children statistically less likely to be financially troubled. Factor such as a loving family environment, above par income levels, and a safe neighborhood are linked to a better upbringing of foster children. According to the Midwest “aged out” foster care children have relatively high rates of arrest and incarceration.This compares with 17 percent of all young men in the U.S. who had been arrested, and 10 percent who had been convicted of a crime (Courtney 8). Consequently ,if the rate of adoption increases the rate of imprisonment of former foster youth drastically decreases. Overall, a ten percent decrease in incarnation of former foster youth, will result in savings of more than $500 million per year.”
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