The Challenges in the Foster Care System
The foster care system was created to care for children whose parents are unwilling or unable to take care of them until those parents could provide a safer home for their children. The system was originally created as a temporary service, but over the years, it has become more of a permanent one because the people working in this field fail to urge more rehabilitation for struggling parents and fail to look to other sources that could help the children better their lives on their own, instead of making them just wait for everything to improve.
The Adoption and Safe Families
Act of 1997, is the current foster care law which amended the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The law puts more emphasis on the child’s health and safety versus trying to save a family. A child’s health is a very important aspect of how the system should be run, as mental illnesses in foster children develop often, but children’s health should and the attempt to rebuild a family should be worked on at the same time, instead of giving one priority over the other (“The Adoption,” n.d.).
The foster care system isn’t perfect, and children can become stuck in it for years, being moved from foster home to foster home. Some children never have the chance to find their forever family and end up having to be emancipated because they become an adult. As a result of the constant moving around, children never feel connected to anyone or anything, making it harder on them when it’s their time to age out too. (“Foster Care,” n.d.). Current tactics for fostering and then adopting are hurting the children and the parents. With the number of children in care more than the number of people willing to take care of them, the system doesn’t do justice for either the children or the parents. The current foster care system damages children’s mental health and fails to provide enough support for them to have a successful future due to the lack of funding and difficulty of planning of the federal and state governments.
The Challenges Within the System Children Being Taken Out of their Homes
In the United States, at any given time, there are about 400,000 children in foster care, and in 2016, more children entered the system than exited it (Foster Care Statistics, 2018). In 2016, just over 90,000 children were taken from their homes as a result of parental drug abuse. In addition, 166,000 were put into foster care due to neglect. The other half of the children were put into the system due to circumstances such as physical and sexual abuse, the inability of the parent to parent, child behavior problems, parent incarceration, just to name a few (Children’s Bureau, 2017).
When children are taken from their families, it is sometimes because of reasoning that doesn’t have any evidence to prove it. In some cases, social workers view poverty levels as neglect or the inability to parent. They think that because the parents don’t make a certain amount of money, they are incapable of, or aren’t trying hard enough to take care of their child, which in most cases, isn’t true (Kahn, 2017). The system claims that they try not to take children out of their homes immediately as they are held to that under the law. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 requires Child Protective Services to make “reasonable efforts to not remove children from their homes if it’s not immediately needed and to reunite children with their birth parents as much as possible (“The Adoption Assistance,” n.d.). The issue with this is that “reasonable efforts is state to state defined making the definition of what these efforts consist of are varying across borders.
Once children are taken out of their homes, they are placed in either a new foster home or an out-of-care facility. Unfortunately, in some cases, children are put in abusive homes. The system may or may not have records of previous abuse from the foster parents. The records existing vary because the policies regarding individual’s background checks to become foster parents are state-to-state based, where some of the accusations or cases can be considered exempt, or not exempt (G. Manning, personal communication, November 7, 2018).
Attempts to prevent children from being put in abusive homes can be seen through a current form of legislation called the “Family First Prevention Services Act. This act has the goal of keeping families together and instead of taking children out of their homes, it offers reimbursement to help the parents with whatever is preventing them from taking care of their children (Gilbreath, 2018).
Children Go Unheard
In a system where children’s lives are put on the line, it would be thought they would get a say in what happens to them. This, though, is not the case. Every time a child is pulled away from their parents, they don’t have a say in where they go next. The system tries to find a relative to take care of them (kinship care), and if that doesn’t work, a new family it is. Once they are put with this new family, it either goes one of two ways: the parents are loving and caring and choose to form a healthy relationship with their new son or daughter, or they are recycled into a house of abuse or neglect. The children that are lucky enough to be put with parents that protect them sometimes aren’t even that lucky. Sometimes, out of nowhere, the parents are notified that their new child is going to be taken out of their possession.
In the state of New York, individual foster parents and a foster parents organization brought suit claiming that New York’s procedures for removing foster children from foster homes violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The New York Law allows the authorized agency the right to remove a foster child from their foster parent as long as there is a 10-day notice. The agency does not have to give a reason for removal immediately, but if the foster parents want to know the reason, they can request a conference with the Social Services Department. The parents brought this class action on behalf of children who they had provided homes for a year or more. They argued that once a child has been with a family for a year, they develop an emotional tie to their foster parent.
This establishes the idea that the foster family becomes the child’s “psychological family which gives the family “liberty interest in the child’s survival as a unit which is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court held that the removal procedures were an unconstitutional deprivation of due process by denying a child a hearing before movement do a different family or the return to their birth parents. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States where they voted 9-0 for Smith saying the district court was mistaken in finding the “grievous loss the child would face when removed from their foster family. Because there is a 10-day notice of removal, the foster parents do have the option to object and request a conference. They said that the state procedures are constitutional as putting a child back with their natural parents is truly ideal (“Smith v. Organization,” n.d.).
New York’s removal process of a child from a foster home does not give the child any say. Although reasons such as the parent’s being able to take care of their child again or a relative willing to take care of the child comes up makes sense for taking a child out of their foster home, the agencies and workers doing so don’t know if that is what the child really wants. If the child was removed from their home in the first place due to abuse issues, it would make sense that they don’t ever want to see their birth parents again. If the foster family taking care of a child builds the parent-child relationship with the child, there would be no reason they would want to leave, and they should be able to say this. If a child wants to stay with their foster family, and the foster family allows this, then they shouldn’t be taken away due to any reason. Although reuniting children with their natural parents is the most ideal situation, it isn’t always the best idea, because once the child is removed they might never want to go back.
Insufficient Funds and Foster Home Shortages
Funds for the foster care system derive from the federal government. Title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) grants money to states for child welfare programs. Section B and Section E provide the adoption and child and family services funds. Section B provides federal funding to the states for welfare programs and services that: “protect and promote the welfare of all children, prevent neglect and abuse, or exploitation of children, support at-risk families so they are able to stay with their families for as long as possible, promote the national goals of safety, permanency, and well being of children in the system, provide training in order to have a well-qualified staff, promote and support adoption. Section E provides funding for safe out-of-home care facilities for children who are in out-of-home care due to child abuse, neglect, or other circumstance until they are either returned home or find a new permanent family.
Under this, funds are available for: “Monthly maintenance payments for the daily care and supervision of eligible children, administrative costs to manage the program, training of staff and foster care providers, recruitment of foster and adoptive parents, adoption assistance Implementation and operation of a Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). Under this section, state agencies are to be checked up on by the federal government to ensure that funds are being used appropriately (Compilation of the Social, n.d.). For 2018, 269 million and 5.537 billion dollars were put into these sections of the SSA respectively. Although just around this amount of money is put into the services that the foster care system provides each year, it is somehow still lacking funds (The President’s, n.d.).
It does take a lot of money to run these agencies, but because the federal government just gives the money to the states and lets them divide it up how they feel necessary, they run into problems easily. This is what causes issues with funding. Each state has different parts of the programs that need more money than the others. This then leads to the lack of money in other areas that really should be getting more. Insufficient funding, or the difficulty of planning funding is also part of the reason for the foster home shortages. Foster parents are not provided with enough money support to foster, which is why parents are choosing not to do it. For the parents that choose to still foster are not given enough set aside of the benefit of their foster child.
As a result, parents sometimes have to work outside the home or work another job to be able to provide to their child. Some children, who are emotionally or behaviorally struggling and damaged require extra attention and time and effort, and because parents are trying to make sure the child is physically healthy, they are sometimes unable to make sure they are mentally in the same state (G. Manning, personal communication, November 7, 2018).
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The Challenges In The Foster Care System. (2019, Aug 30). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/the-challenges-in-the-foster-care-system/
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