SOC 331: Social Justice and Ethics
November 14, 2011
Raising children is one of the most important responsibilities in any society. Today, working parents have many options, but what about those children who have neither a mother nor father? What about those children who come from broken and abusive homes? In such cases there are often few choices. Parentless children may be placed in orphanages or in foster homes. Ideally, foster care offers children more personalized attention than would normally be available at a public or private situation. However, orphanage care is notoriously uneven. While some children are indeed in loving homes, others find themselves neglected or even worse. Though many foster parents are conscientious and caring, there are many who are not. Some are in it only for the money, although, others have good intentions and motives. A problem as well, is that many children in foster care are continually moved from home to home, thus establishing no real bond with their foster parents. Children, especially young children, require a stable environment. A foster parent is, in effect, a surrogate parent. And like other parents, foster mothers and fathers serve as role models for their children. A role model can be a positive influence, but depending on the role model he/she could be a negative influence. There are many reasons why children in Foster care require more attention than other children. Large numbers of these children have moderate to severe behavioral problems. The nature of these problems varies, but often includes drug abuse, disciplinary problems, and various issues of sexual freedom. The protection and nurturance of children is a universal goal shared by all human cultures. Children thrive best when they live in safe, stable, and nurturing families. However, many children in the United States lack this type of home environment. For these children whose families are not safe havens, a caring society needs to find alternative foster care placements. Foster care refers to the system that provides protection for minor children who are unable to live with their biological parents. Currently there are over 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. The goal of the foster care system is to provide abused and neglected children with an environment of safety, permanency, and nurturance. Removal from their homes and placement into a foster care setting is both difficult and stressful for children. Although they come into foster care because of their exposure to serious abuse and maltreatment, family problems, and any number of risk factors, many children struggle with feelings of guilt and blame for being removed from their homes. Many children also experience a sense of confusion, anxiety, stress, and loss. In addition, they may feel unwanted and helpless about their placement in a foster care setting; they may have difficulty attaching themselves to the many different foster parents they encounter as they move from one placement to another; and they may be insecure about their future. Prolonged and multiple foster care placements can contribute to negative outcomes for some of these children. For example, children especially adolescents who have been in foster care for an extended time have difficulty developing self-sufficiency and independence in adulthood. Children need consistency, connectedness, and a sense of belonging to have a successful, healthy development. Providing a safe, stable, nurturing environment can bolster resilience and the short- and long-term adjustment of children. The foster care system provides only a temporary living arrangement for vulnerable children to ensure their safety and well-being. Children remain in foster care placements until the problems that caused their removal are solved. Decisions made about the future for foster care children are called "permanency planning." A successful...