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Foster Care System

Essay by   •  July 23, 2012  •  Case Study  •  2,734 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,036 Views

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Foster Care System

The Foster Care System has come under attack as of late due to the number of children that have entered our foster care system and upon exiting, they have suffered major setbacks. There is a growing trend that those persons that are responsible for providing safe and suitable foster care are simply doing so for the financial aspect versus tending to the needs of the children that are placed in their protection. Most children that enter the foster care system tend to come from homes where, either the parents or family member could no longer provide a safe environment for the child or children. Another reason might be, the child or children suffer from extreme behavioral issues where the state where they reside become involved, and decide to remove child or children from the home; simply, for the purpose of everyone's safety that is involved. It seems that the role of a parent has become quite difficult these days than from yester-year. There are a lot more single parented homes where one parent is forced to work multiple jobs in order to provide a decent roof over their own heads. As a result, a lot of children have been left to fend for their own selves due to lack of supervision; or some might say neglect. This does not negate the fact that children these days are suffering from amidst of behavioral issues stemming from: anger issues, depression, drug addiction, rejection, to being bi-polar, or dealing with anxiety, self-mutilation, and not limited to violent tendencies. So the question that is posed, "Is the government doing enough to protect our children in the foster care system?" Is the criterion for becoming a foster parent stringent enough? Has the responsibility of properly vetting foster parents been compromised for the sake of the amount of children continually entering the foster care system? The intent of this research paper is to decide if the child welfare agencies are completing their mission in keeping our foster children safe, stable, and healthy.

The evolution of foster care is an interesting one. Its genesis dates back to early 1700's when children that were without guardianship were called orphans. The onset of the 1800s, the religious community and those that chartered charitable organizations decided to establish the first orphanages. Many of the children were displaced to a local orphanages because their parents could no longer afford to provide them food and shelter. Some orphans lost their parents due to unexpected death and/or disease. As a result of this outlet, concern grew largely because of the effects of growing orphanages. A number of orphanages were forced to turn away children due to the lack of space and availability.

As a result, these newly formed private agencies began the practice of placing orphans with foster families. The problem lied where prospective families were rarely screened, and agencies seldom monitored placements. The question that may come to mind is, "How could these agencies effectively screen potential parents? With the United States going through a depression the pot for willing parents must have been desolate. By the early 1900s, the first state laws to prevent child abuse and neglect were passed, the first national conference on the needs of dependent children was convened, and the first federal children's bureau was established.

The Social Security Act of 1935 authorized the first federal grants for child welfare services, under what later came to be known as Subpart 1 of Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. Though relatively small, these first federal grants served as an impetus for states to establish child welfare agencies and to develop local programs to deliver child welfare services. Over the next several decades, the definition of child welfare services was expanded to include a broader range of services. Federal funding for child welfare services increased and states were required to match federal grants with state funds. (Murray and Gesiriech, 2004)

Long before "adoption" was commonly used, child-placers appreciated the differences between permanent kinship and temporary residence in someone else's home. Most Progressive-era social workers aimed to keep children with their own families, even if they were illegitimate, out of respect for the importance of blood ties. But advocates also knew that some children could not or should not live with their birth parents. For these children, becoming a lifelong member of a new family was desirable. Common sense suggested that emotional security was key to children's health and welfare, and developmental science produced additional evidence for this claim. Research on attachment and loss and studies of maternal deprivation in infancy influenced policies of early placement and ushered in a more pro-adoption climate after 1940. (Herman, 2012)

By 1950, statistics showed that children in family foster care outnumbered children in institutions for the first time. By 1960, there were more than twice as many in foster care. By the late 1970s, the foster child population exceeded 500,000, roughly where it stands today. Foster placements could be numerous and lengthy in practice, but in theory they were temporary because children maintained ties to their birth parents. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, as foster care became more common for more children, adoptions increasingly involved practices like matching, policies like confidentiality and sealed records, and placements of infants and toddlers rather than older children. Adoption aspired to the wholesale substitution of one family for another. Foster care did not. (Herman, 2012)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the division where you find the support and structure for abuse, adoption, foster care, and neglect just to name a few. The Administration for Children and Families is the direct conductor that oversees the state to state interaction of every day to day operation that embodies the foster care system. Their website, http://www.childwelfare.gov/, is the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The mission is, protecting children and strengthening families.

Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the general public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more. A service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we provide access to print and electronic publications, websites, databases, and online learning tools for improving child welfare practice, including resources that can be shared with families. (hhs.gov, 2012)

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