Essay About Foster Care
On average, 500,000 children are in foster care at any given time (AACAP). Each experience in the system is unique to every child. Some may find that being in a foster home is traumatizing or abusive, while others might see it as a blissful escape from their past. Including personal experience on the topic, we chose to research the shortcomings of the foster care system. In our search, we found all kinds of statistics ranging from the number of homes (or lack thereof), to the average time any child spends in the system. We also found articles written by people, more specifically parents, who have personal experience taking part in the system. Every source seemed to agree on one thing: the system is broken and is in desperate need of fixing. Our goal with this paper is to expose the truth behind the broken and inadequate parts of the system as well as explore ideas on how it might be fixed.
One of the ways to reach our goal of this paper was finding resources that can share a personal experience or that we're able to expose the positive and negative aspects of the system. One of the articles we found is Pamela Red's “Pros and Cons of Being a Foster Family,” and is written from the perspective of a mother who was in the system and had fostered children in her home. The obvious pros that were mentioned included rescuing children and giving them somewhere to go, making them feel wanted, and being a motivation for the children if everything has been lost. Red also listed the cons of the system, and when looking at the side of the list by side, there were a plethora of cons or faults within the system. A few of the main cons that Red listed are leaving one's home, drug babies, stares and judgment, doctors’ visits, behavioral issues, and the sometimes dishonest social workers. Given the severity of placement, many would think that there would be a failsafe within the system to stop or help many of these problems. While it may be impossible to stop drug babies (children born already addicted to a drug or list of drugs because the mother did them while pregnant) or a group of untrustworthy people in the system, there are ways to potentially help fix the other problems. Some of the problems may be resolved better by help from the nearby communities as well; any helping hand can be significant in helping impact this system for the better.
Another article we came across on our research journey was an article by Katie Dupere called “6 Problems With the Foster Care System- and What you Can do to Help.” This article, as said in the title, is about problems with not only the system itself but with the way people act and treat others within the system. The article opens with a foster care system survivor named Jordan, who is now an activist for the children in the homes and works in the system now herself. She poses as a motivation for the kids who got into the rough parts of the system and she shows them that they can make it out just like she did. Following the short story of Jordan, Dupere starts listing the six problems she is focusing on: group homes are too often a go-to, teens age out without support, foster parents need more support, not enough focus on reunification, children’s needs are unheard, and the system has too many rules and players. One of the biggest societal issues she mentioned was the lack of foster homes and the increase of foster children being thrown in with random families. It is said to be the “most important criterion for placement.” The other two main issues connected with both the foster parents' and the foster childrens’ needs not being met. The parents aren’t getting enough support so they can achieve the success they need and the children’s needs are just being ignored and neglected. After breaking down the problems with these few topics, she then describes ways to help fix the problems or what one can do to help. A couple of the suggestions to help that go hand in hand are to have more adults become foster parents so there are more homes and to help babysit or tutor people in the system who genuinely need the insight and help. This knocks out several birds with one stone because it can make more homes available for the children and educates either the parents or the children with what they need to know so the process comes across easier. These are also ways to help as an outsider or random person in the community without requiring money or a lot of effort. The system is not the only part that is broken pertaining to foster care, it is also the people and the way they’re treated. In ways, it may even be up to anyone else to help because any support can be very significant.
A really interesting source that was found is called “A Framework for OT Within Foster Care Transaction” by Casey Blaesing, Tessa Burt, and Paulina Calli. There are many statistics posted and it seems to be more of an interactive journal website when finding all of the information. One of the main topics posted was that children in the foster system almost never get a proper transition when they age out of the foster system. The federal law requires that the transition process should start at least 90 days prior to the youth turning eighteen which is when they are deemed as an adult by the government. There are so many kids in the foster system that they have to boot the eighteen-year-olds out in order to get another kid into the group home. The transition services can include post-secondary education such as college plans or employment. When youth in foster care don’t receive the transition process, 22% of them will be incarcerated at age nineteen (Blaesing). There are around 4.2 million youth that is homeless and a quarter of them were from foster care. The foster systems aren’t setting the kids up for success like any other children that live in a typical family house. They get kicked out of their homes and are left without the skills they need to succeed and build their own foundation for success, and aging out of the system is the downside for those children, especially those that have nowhere else to go.
There are many children in foster care that experience cognitive and behavioral problems. While children from all backgrounds can have behavioral and/or cognitive problems, they tend to be more present in children in the system. Due to the severity of most foster situations, it can hardly be surprising that many of these children have cases of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. Foster parents need to be willing to take extra precautions in order to help the child (or children) handle any given situation in the best way possible. In an article by AACAP it says that, “Challenges for foster parents include…finding support services within the community…[and] dealing with a child’s emotions and behavior following visits with birth parents.” Knowing a child and the situation they were in also helps foster parents when looking for help. Many times the recovery process includes the “birth parents, foster parents, mental health professionals, and child welfare staff…”(AACAP) all parties are necessary to help diagnose properly(if needed) and provide the proper care for every child. Not all cases in the system are the same, nor is one child’s process going to be the same as another’s. Foster parents should treat each case like it’s something new and handle each child with care.