Foster Care Canada Essay

Pages: 8 (2456 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

Foster Care in Canada

There is a darker side (injustice, bureaucracy, insensitivity, discrimination) and a brighter side (family-centered reform, more parental training, etc.) to the discussion of foster care in Canada. This paper will review the many sides of the issue, and offer potential solutions from the literature. The issue is urgent. To wit, in reviewing the literature relative to the current situation in foster care it is apparent pivotal changes must be forthcoming in order to benefit the children who find themselves in the middle, and at the mercy of a system that is fragile and even failing in many aspects.

Review of Literature: Basic Numbers of Canadian Children in Foster Care

An investigative scholarly article in the journal Child Welfare (Marquis, et al., 2008) points to the "dramatic increases" in the number of children in the Canadian welfare system. The reason for those increases has to do not necessarily with more actual cases of children needing care, but rather the increase is "…driven by an increased reporting of neglect cases" (Marquis, p. 5). The study that Marquis and colleagues pursue separates "child neglect" from "child maltreatment." The authors incorporated the files of 110 children (79 neglected; 31 physically maltreated) and focused on those cases for differences in the ability of the children to adjust while in foster care and on discharge.

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In general, children who were subjected to neglect were younger, and were more likely "…to have caregivers diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder" (Marquis, p. 6). Also, neglected children tended to have been placed in homes with higher rates of exposure to "spousal abuse" than children who had been maltreated (Marquis, p. 6). As for children who had been physically abused (maltreated), they displayed "greater difficulty during their foster care adjustment" and once they had been discharged from their care environment, neglected children "were more likely to be returned to the care of the agency" (Marquis, p. 6).

Essay on Foster Care Canada Assignment

As of the publishing of this research (2008), there were an estimated 76,183 children in foster care in Canada, Marquis explains (p. 7). That is a dramatic increase from 1999 (46,397 children in foster care) and from 1997 (36,080). Looking at Ontario, the province showed skyrocketing numbers of children in foster care: On March 31, 2003 there were an estimated 18,126 children in foster care, a 56% increase since five years earlier (March 31, 1998).

Review of Literature: Challenges Presently Facing the Foster Care System

The journal article in The Future of Children (Chipungu, et al., 2004) delves into the many serious challenges facing foster care. Among those challenges are these: a) social service agencies are usually working on tight budgets (especially during this current global recession), and agencies have a difficult time "providing adequate, accessible, and appropriate services for the families" they are responsible for; b) children of color are often "disproportionately represented in foster care" which raises issues of fairness in the system; c) many foster parents drop out after the first year due to a sense that the situation is "overwhelming and frustrating"; and d) social workers are often strapped with "large caseloads" and the system suffers from high turnover of staff and limitations as far as data storage (for serving and monitoring families) (Chipungu, p. 1).

In addition, many children (either from neglect or maltreatment) are from families in which stressors such homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse and HIV / AIDS, and poverty have taken a toll on the family, and hence on the child's future. One of the unfair factors affecting entry into the foster care system is "racially biased decision-making" (Chipungu, p. 7). The authors point out that although many more Caucasian women than women of color get involved with illegal drugs studies indicate that [black children] that are "prenatally exposed to illicit drugs are much more likely than white children to be reported to child protective services" (Chipungu, p. 7). As a result of being reported to child protective services, children of color end up in a foster family. Another aspect of the biases in society that Chipungu alludes to is that in spite of the fact that a large number of children of color are in foster care (due to parental substance abuse) "there are few treatment programs available to serve communities of color."

In addition, besides the inequality associated with the fact that a disproportionate number of children of color are in foster care situations, those children have "unique developmental issues" culturally, ethnically and physically, that are not (in many cases) being met or dealt with in a sensitive way. As mentioned earlier in this section, there is a high staff turnover ratio among child welfare agencies; indeed, the article by Chipungu asserts that some ninety percent of child welfare agencies report having difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent (p. 10). Poor working conditions and a poor public perception of the child welfare system contribute to the turnover; moreover, having to spend "an increasing amount of time meeting paperwork requirements" takes away the time a skilled social worker could otherwise spend providing "counseling, support, and encouragement to clients" (Chipungu, p. 10).

From the perspective of a child that has been removed from a home and placed in foster care, there are changes that are hard to adjust to. In fact Chipungu estimates that between 30 and 80% of children exhibit "emotional and/or behavioral problems, either from their experiences before entering foster care or from the foster care experience itself" (p. 12). And even though the situation at home was unsettling (and perhaps even terrible with spousal abuse and substance abuse rampant) the child being placed in a foster care home may experience "grief at the separation from or loss of relationship with their natural parents" (Chipungu, p. 12). Moreover, the child being removed from one home (his or her primary home) and placed in a foster home may face "emotional and psychological challenges" trying to make the adjustment; and many children go through depression, aggression, or withdrawal; they may also show signs of sleep disturbance, they may hoard food, overeat, stimulate themselves in a severe way, or go into a patter of rocking constantly (Chipungu, p. 12).

The aforementioned challenges notwithstanding, there are the serious issues that foster parents face, including the need for better financial support and better case management support from the social service agencies. To wit, in interviews foster parents report that they feel "…devalued by workers" and they sense a "lack of trust" which can arise from "poor service integration, lack of service coordination, and the inaccessibility of workers to foster families" (Chipungu, p. 14).

Review of Literature: The Social-Emotional Dynamics of Foster Children

An article in the journal Child Welfare posits that children carry over their fears and emotional behavioral issues from their primary families, and it hard for new foster parents to get a grasp on these problems. One problem is that "maltreated infants and toddlers" have a problem "giving accurate cues about their emotional needs" to their foster parents because in the past nobody paid attention to those cues (Wotherspoon, et al., 2008). This leads to potential tantrums, whining, or to the child appearing to not "want or need nurturing" or other forms of support from a caregiver (Wotherspoon, p. 1).

Some children that are moved into a foster care environment confuse their new caregivers because they behave in ways "that made sense in their previous environment" but those behaviors are "misleading" to the foster parents. Wotherspoon (p. 2) goes on the explain that foster parents need to be acutely aware of what happened to that child in the past, in order to know how to respond effectively to the child in the future. For example, Wotherspoon (p. 2) explains that a foster family might think that a tantrum at mealtime means the child is being "manipulative"; however it may be that mealtime are problematic for the child due to previous deprivation by his primary family.

Wotherspoon goes on to list ways in which foster parents can understand their foster child's behavior and building a bond with the child; those suggestions include: a) getting special help from professionals in order to be relate to various antisocial behaviors; b) taking fifteen to twenty minutes several times a week to engage in "child-led play"; c) isolating children when they misbehave ("time out" and "time in"); d) staying calm and controlled when the child's emotions are escalating out of control; and e) thinking younger and modifying environments to cool things down (turn off TV).

Review of Literature: Benefits of Giving Foster Parents Better Training

The journal Social Work Research cites research that reflects the benefits of foster parent training; indeed specialized training can lead to "placement permanency" and to improvements in children's "psychological adjustment" and social skills. Moreover, when foster parents receive adequate training, it helps keep children "connected to their biological parents" (Pacifici, et al., 2005). As to the kinds of training available, foster parents can take training classes online ( that deal with sleep problems,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Foster Care Canada" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Foster Care Canada.  (2009, June 16).  Retrieved January 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Foster Care Canada."  16 June 2009.  Web.  25 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Foster Care Canada."  June 16, 2009.  Accessed January 25, 2021.