23 April 2022
How Children Are Languishing In the Us Foster Care System
The foster care system in the US was established in the early 20th century, to help children who had different problems. Since then, the number of children who end up the foster homes has increased. This increase is attributed to many factors, but the main ones are family wrangles and poverty. The Foster care system was established under the law as a way for the government to protect and take care of children who have been mistreated or neglected. The motive for its establishment was good, but as the program matures and ages children in it have undergone a lot of suffering. Many issues have emerged and interfered with the proper functioning of this foster care system, hence making a living hell for the children. To a greater percentage, the federal government has failed the system. Children in the foster care system have been neglected, damaged, and left with little resources when they age out.
How children ended up in foster care in itself is traumatic. Through interaction with children brought up in the foster care system, some have narrated traumatizing events that made them opt for foster care (Wildeman et al. 599-618). Some of the reasons include family-related issues such as divorce, violence, negligence, and substances abuse. Some of these children have reported negligence from the parents where they fail to provide hence leaving their children with no other option but to seek foster care. Some children have also gone through abuse at the hands of their biological parents. These abuses include psychological abuse or physical abuse hence leaving children traumatized. In hoping to get a haven they end up in foster care where the worst happens (Wildeman et al. 599-618). What happens in foster care? In foster care there are still cases of negligence, the government has failed to distribute funds and resources equitable making hence some children in foster care lack basic needs (Wildeman et al. 599-618). There are many factors that contribute to foster parents not providing adequate care. Foster parents have been lacking financial support and hence are not able to meet the basic needs of children in the foster homes (Wildeman et al. 599-618). There are reported cases of children within foster care lacking some basic needs and such children have opted to leave foster homes and seek accommodation elsewhere and some have ended up being homeless (Wildeman et al. 599-618). Is the foster care system therefore a place where children are dumped and left by all, including biological parents and state agencies? This is somewhat true because children in foster homes are neglected. Since a lot needs to be done to address the problem there is a need for urgent intervention by all stakeholders without which the children will continue suffering in silence within the foster care system.
Utilization of services is another area that can indicate how the foster system fails children aging out of it. Since there is a correlation between some service utilization and traumatic experiences in foster care it can be used to measure post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) among the children from foster care (Franz et al. 199). This is very import as people need to be able to see the damage that is caused in the system. The level of trauma among the children brought into the foster care can therefore be measured in terms of service utilization (Franz et al. 199). Children from foster care have been found to utilize Trauma-related services more than the other children. It is therefore evident that as children age out of the foster home they undergo a lot of traumatic experiences. This can also be said that the mental health of the children in the foster care system is not good. The reports also show that many of them have post-traumatic stress disorders and indicates that all is not well with the trusted system, where most believe that it takes care of the children (Franz et al. 199). Some of the children aging out of the system have also been found to engage in other misleading forms of stress-relieving such as alcohol and substance abuse (Franz et al. 199). This was seen when the utilization of rehabilitation services among adults aging in foster care increased. Many young adults who utilized the rehabilitations services were from the foster care system. The results show that over 75% of the children from the foster care will utilize trauma-related services as they transition to adulthood ((Yi et al. 704-709). The reason for that is due to the fact that many of them underwent traumatic events and engage in substance abuse to relieve their stress but ended up becoming drug addicts.
The level and types of trauma these children endure are unimaginable .Reports have shown that children in foster care are likely to suffer from sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect (Thomas et al.1806-1824). Children put so much trust and hope into parental figures who are supposed to love and guide them. Adults are causing harm when in a position to be a positive role for children. They can suffer from these abuses while still with their biological parents or in the foster home. Children can grow up with these abuses where they will be traumatized for their entire life or get relieved after seeking help from a specialist (Yi et al.704-709). The emotional hardship witnessed among the children from foster care, therefore, are likely to impact most aspects of their lives negatively. Since most foster homes lack trauma relieving services children will continue to languish in them (Thomas et al.1806-1824). Exposing children in foster care to trauma has made them suffer from placement instability disorders that are majorly associated with the behavior of children from foster care. There is a 90% chance that children in foster care will experience more trauma compared to children brought up in the real home (Thomas et al.1806-1824). Even though the public perceives foster care as a haven for abandoned or maltreated children, children in the system are slowly suffering and aging with difficulties.
The system does affect the children as they transition to adulthood? The children aging out of the foster care system have been found to have some traumatic disorders as they transition to adulthood (Simmons-Horton & Sherri.583-593). A good example in this group is dual-status youth. These are youth who have spent their lives in both the foster care system and the juvenile system. Foster care contributes to dual statuses. Such an experience in the foster care system will therefore impact the lives of adopted children negatively as they grow into adults (Simmons-Horton & Sherri. 583-593). Dual youth are undergoing a lot of problems as they transition to adulthood such as traumatic experiences that resulted in dual status, lack of normalcy, and environmental trauma (Thomas et al. 1806-1824). These youths are likely to get involved in negative outcomes such as involvement in criminal activities and homelessness (Simmons-Horton & Sherri. 583-593). With this information, it is therefore evident that children are being mistreated and not given a fair chance in the US foster care system.
Lack of reunion is also another area where the foster care system fails the US children. As the children are aging out there has been no working program that will help to reunite these children with their real families (Yi et al. 704-709). Some children in foster care undergo emotional trauma because they miss some of their family members. The system only emphasizes the adoption or aging out of the foster care system but does not work on reuniting children with their real parents (Fritz. 8). This is a failure in the system because some of the children in foster homes did not want to leave their real families. It is therefore like forcing children out of their real homes and never letting them return. There is no consensus between the family members and the foster care system on the conditions of taking the child away but agencies have been given all the powers to decide on the fate of children in foster care hence messing with the entire system (Badillo-Urquiola et al). The reports show that more than half of the children in the foster care system in the US are never reunited with their parents (Fritz. p8). Once a child enters the system it seems they are doomed to be left in a difficult situation.
Children in foster care also age out of the system without proper support. Teens in group homes are always denied the right to connect with permanent adoptive families hence growing up without proper support (Fritz, 8). Once a child reaches a certain age little is done to find them a family. When teens reach a certain age the system then allows them to age in it which in itself is devastating (Badillo-Urquiola et al). How can such youth age in foster care yet lack support? It is the failure of the system because it does not have proper ways in which youths or young adults leave the foster homes. The reports have shown that 40% of those who age out of the foster homes will not complete high school education (Yi et al. 704-709). This is because they are consumed with the responsibility of providing for themselves. The reports also show that more than 30% of those who age in foster homes will become homeless (Badillo-Urquiola et al). This worrying statistic is because when teens in the system reach 21 years they are completely on their own. The system, therefore, has failed many children in the US.
There is a failure in the federal government and the organization of the system in general. The major area where the federal government is failing is in the financial sector (Gupta-Kagan. 841). It has failed in that it does not have a proper system of funding foster homes. There are incidences where the federal government has been funding hidden foster homes while leaving other foster parents without funds to help the adopted children (Gupta-Kagan. 841). Also, some states allocate fewer funds to foster parents to an extent where they cannot meet the basic needs of the children they are taking care of. When the foster parents cannot meet the needs of these children then they neglect them. Failure of the government to provide adequate funds has scared parents and made them stop adopting children. There has been a reduced number of children adopted over the past few decades in the US. Apart from the financial issues, there are legal issues also that have failed the foster care system (Gupta-Kagan. 841). These include failure to terminate parental rights even in cases where there are repeated episodes of negligence. Still on legal issues also there cases where the legal system has failed to protect the children in the foster care hence leaving them to languish in the system (Gupta-Kagan. 841). Agencies have also been vested with a lot of powers to an extent where they can intimidate the biological parents. For instance in cases where the biological or the foster parents abdicate their responsibilities, then the law is too slow to act on them. The entire system is therefore crumbling down and children are languishing in it (Gupta-Kagan. 841). They are allocating funds where they are not needed and neglecting to see where they are needed.
Many people believe that the foster care system is a wonderful thing that allows families to take in children and provide stability. Many people believe that families are heavily trained and screened before children are placed in the care of these individuals. It is also believed that the system p
In summary, children in the foster care system are slowly languishing. The foster care system has failed them in many ways. These ways include too many rules within the system, lack of financial support from the federal government, lack of reunification, teens lacking proper care within the system, negatively affecting teens as they transition to adults, and the traumatic experiences children in the system go through. It is therefore evident that the foster care system is failing the children in the US. There is also a need for urgent intervention by the relevant authorities and agencies.
Badillo-Urquiola, Karla, and Pamela Wisniewski. “Conducting Sensitive Research with Teens in the US Foster Care System.” Available at SSRN 3359371 (2019).
Franz, Daschel J., et al. “A longitudinal examination of service utilization and trauma symptoms among young women with prior foster care and juvenile justice system involvement.” Child welfare. 97.5-6 (2019): 199. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7167304/
Fritz K. Gregory “How Foster Care System Fails Our Children” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior letter (2008):8.
Gupta-Kagan, Josh. “America’s hidden foster care system.” Stan. L. Rev. 72 (2020): 841.
Simmons-Horton, Sherri Y. “A bad combination”: lived experiences of youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems.” Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal 38.6 (2021): 583-597. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-020-00693-1
Thomas, Lindsey J., and Kristina M. Scharp. “Voicing the system: How formerly fostered adults make meaning of the US foster care system.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 37.6 (2020): 1806-1824.
Wildeman, Christopher, and Jane Waldfogel. “Somebody’s children or nobody’s children? How the sociological perspective could enliven research on foster care.” Annual Review of Sociology 40 (2014): 599-618. doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043358
Yi, Youngmin, Frank R. Edwards, and Christopher Wildeman. “Cumulative prevalence of confirmed maltreatment and foster care placement for US children by race/ethnicity, 2011–2016.” American journal of public health 110.5 (2020): 704-709.