March 30, 2011
Introduction/ Problem Statement
Each year 542,000 children nationwide live temporarily with foster parents, while their own parents struggle to overcome an addiction to alcohol, drugs, illness, financial hardship or other difficulties (Mennen, Brensilver, & Trickett, 2010.) The maltreatment they experienced at home, the shock of being separated from their birth parents, and the uncertainty they face as they enter the foster care system leave many children feeling abandoned or lost. Children have many needs, but while in foster care these needs are not always met. A supportive family environment is created for those children whose parents are not able to take the responsibility of caring for their own children. Today the focus is not only on the child’s protection while out of the home, but where to be placed now and how the child will adapt to the situation.
Description of Foster Care
Foster care has served as an adequate way for society to provide additional care to children who need temporary or permanent placement for a variety of reasons (Mandell, 2006.) Foster homes try to create an environment that supports the social, emotional, and developmental growth of children. Many of these children have dealt with maltreatment such as abuse and neglect, which has put them in foster care and has also impacted their developmental and mental health (Diehl, Howse, & Trivette, 2011.)
Children in Foster Care
There are several hundred thousand children within the foster care system in the United States, but what decisions did their parents make in order for the child to enter the system? Sadly, many homes have more than one of the following issues, and a child can enter the foster care system for numerous reasons. Neglect is the most prevalent form of maltreatment. Meeting the needs of children include providing food, a clean living environment, and education, as well as seeking attention to medical concerns and other needs. Physical abuse is when any bruising appears on the child and is caused by the parent. This if often seen with younger children as they are unable to fight back. Sexual abuse is common with older children who are reaching their teenage years (Herrick & Middlemist, 2005.) A child may be placed in foster care if a parent is serving time in jail or prison, and there is no family available to care for the child at the time; this is known as incarceration. A rare case for a child to be placed in foster care is from a death of a parent, in this situation there is typically other family members that will care for the child (Friend, Shlonsky, & Lambert, 2008.) Due to lack of family resources and prevention centers in a community, everyday children enter or remain in foster care.
Placement in Foster Care
Children can enter the foster care system at any age. Currently, 25 percent of all children entering foster care for the first time are infants, and 60 percent are under four years old. Youth between the ages of 13 and 18 comprise for 33 percent of all children in care (Cheng, 2010.)
Children can be placed in foster care on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Being placed involuntary requires a court order and usually involves abuse or neglect. The court feels that what’s best for the child is to be removed from the home, and then will decide on a length of time the child will spend away from the home. Voluntary placement is when the parents are willing to have someone else temporarily care for their children. A family may be experiencing serious medical, emotional or financial problems and feel that the child would be better off if taken care of by another family (Herrick & Middlemist, 2005.)
Today the placement of children in foster care is becoming more difficult. Many foster families are unwilling to take multiple children which may cause the separation of siblings; a heart breaking experience for these children who have...