Research Paper: Programs for Children in the Foster Care System

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Programs for Children in the Foster Care System

This paper aims to discuss the United States Foster Care system. It puts light on the trends of entries, exists, adoptions and placements in the U.S. foster care system. In addition to that, the kinds of difficulties that are being faced by the foster families due to lack of funds and proper support are also being discussed in this paper. This paper also indicates the defects that are being rendered in the nurturing of the children by the foster care system.

In this paper, the foster care system of the United States of America has been discussed in detail. It has been observed during the last few years that a rising number of children are located in foster care systems in the United States by public welfare agencies. Recent reports specify that foster care families lack support and need to provide adequate care, nurturing and safety for the children placed in their care. This paper discusses the issues related with the nurturing and adoption of the children and it also examines the problems faced by the foster families due to lack of funds. The paper is divided into four sections. The first section discusses the rising trend of entries in the U.S. foster care system and it statistically analyzes the volume of over-aged unadopted children in the system.

The second section examines the inability of the foster care system to employee appropriate staff in order to monitor the foster families. The system is not able to hire professional staff because of the unavailability of funds. The third section examines the defects and drawbacks in the nurturing and bringing up of the children under the foster care system. It examines how the children raised in foster care may suffer from different consequences (physical / mental / emotional / psychological etc.) due to inadequate nurturing.

The last section consists of the conclusion on the existing facilities and the recommendations that are being made for the betterment and improvement of the foster care system of the United States of America.

Background

It has been indicated by a number of studies that since the last few years a prominent number of U.S. families have gone under a substantial crisis. Some people respond to the great economic crisis and other social pressures by using drugs and alcohol, whereas, others adopt aggressive behavior as a response in relation to unpleasant events. The most vulnerable population that is being effected greatly during such unstable circumstances is children belonging to such families. As they remain neglected throughout the period of crisis or they become the victims of mental or physical abuse.

The government of the United States of America has taken the responsibility of nurturing of such children. The government has designed different mandates and legislations that ensure the safety of children. The local child protective service agencies are reported whenever any child is subjected to violence or negligence. After the report is being made, an investigation is being carried out and if it is discovered that the child is really being abused then the court interferes and takes the custody of that child. When, due to abuse or negligence, a child is being removed from his biological family and is placed with a temporary family then this temporary family is known as foster family and the system of such placement is called foster care system. (Hancock, 2009)

History of Foster Care System:

Foster care system in the United States of America roots back to 1853 when the first renowned and acknowledged foster care program, 'The Placing out System of the New York Children's Aid Society', was established by Charles Loring Brace. With the establishment of the placing out system of the New York children's aid society about twenty states established public orphanages. These orphanages had an aim of providing homeless children with a home. For about a decade, a healthy debate was carried out on the topic that is an institution a better home for the homeless or a foster family? In the year 1909 foster care system won the debate when it was termed as the best substitute of the natural home at the White House Conference on Children. Since then there has been a rising trend of children being located in foster care system. (McDonald, Allen, Westerfelt & Piliavin)

Entries, Exists, Adoptions and Placements in the U.S. Foster Care System

The trend of entries and exists in the United States foster care system is a bit fluctuating. The rate of children entering the foster care system has changed very slightly and the rate of adoptions is quite low during the last ten years. The entries in the year 2002 amounted to 295000. The maximum number of entries, ranging up to 307000, in the foster care system was reported in the year 2005. The number of entries during the fiscal year 2011 was reported to be 252000. The highest number of exists, ranging up to 295000, was reported in the years 2005 and 2006. The lowest number of exists was 245000 and it was recorded in the year 2011. Another point that is evident from the following graph is that the number adoption is very low as compared to the number of entries. The highest number of adoptions was 57000 and it was recorded in the fiscal year 2009 and the lowest number of adoptions was 50000 and it was recorded in the year 2003. ("Trends in foster," 2011)

In the following graph 'in care' represents the children that were under the care of foster care system in the beginning of the given fiscal year. 'TRP (termination of parental rights)' represents the children who have been separated from their biological parents and are waiting to get adopted and 'served' is an accumulated amount of all the children who have been in the foster care system during the given fiscal year. ("Trends in foster," 2011)

It can be observed that there has been a prominent decline in the children who are waiting to be adopted. The rate of children waiting to be adopted was highest in the year 2006. The rate was recorded to be 135000 in the said year. This amount declined continuously from the year 2006 and was recorded to be the lowest in the fiscal year 2011. In this year the rate of children waiting to be adopted amounted to 104000.

("Trends in foster," 2011)

In addition to that, the children entering foster care systems are placed in a variety of temporary homes including, a group home or a relative home etcetera. In the year 2010, out of the total children who were placed in different temporary settlements, 48% of the children were placed in non-relative foster families whereas, 26% of the children were placed in relative foster family homes. About 9% were placed in institutions and 6% in group homes. 5% of the children were sent to trial home visits and about 4% were sent to preadoptive homes. The runaway rate in the year 2010 was 2% and the remaining 1% of the children led an independent life under the supervision of concerned authorities. ("Trends in foster," 2011)

The placement of the children has an influential impact on the behavior of children. If children are constantly sent to trial homes then they have to make continuous adjustments in their behavior according to the requirement of their current home. These adjustments can have a number of negative effects on the behavior of the children ("Foster care statistics 2010," 2012). The comparison between the placement of children in the year 2000 and 2010 is represented in the following graph:

("Foster care statistics 2010," 2012)

The rate of runaway, supervised independent life remained same in the year 2010. However, there were slight changes in the remaining placement variables. ("Foster care statistics 2010," 2012)

Children Aging out of the Foster Care System

Foster care system is a temporary home for the children who are neglected or abused. The child welfare institutions try to find out a permanent home for the children who are located in the foster care system. These children are either sent back to their biological parents or they are accommodated with their guardians or relatives. In addition to that children also get adopted from the foster care system. In the 2010 most of the children entering the foster care system were permanently accommodated. But 11% of the children were left to live on their own under the supervision of concerned authorities. Children growing older than 18 years, or children aging out, have to leave the foster care system without having any safe and permanent home. (McCoy-Roth, DeVoogh & Fletcher, 2011) the graph below shows the number of children who aged out of the foster care system during 1998 to 2010:

Number of Children Aging out of the Foster Care System.

(McCoy-Roth, DeVoogh & Fletcher, 2011)

As shown in the above figure there was a sharp increase in the number of youth aging out of the foster… [END OF PREVIEW]

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