Foster care is an important program that includes providing temporal service for those children that are not with their parents. Children under foster care are in the protection of their relatives or with people they are not related to. Besides, foster care can involve other settings like group and residential care facilities and other areas under supervision. Cases of child maltreatment, include abuse and neglect in which victims suffers physically, sexually, and emotionally. Such maltreatment cases are a common problem in the US, and this has lifelong complications for the victims (Yi and Wildeman 38). Therefore, with the practical and ethical obligation, the state intervenes to remove such children from their homes and place them under foster care. In this case, foster care is preferable to the harmful effects of residential and kinship care and adoption. However, foster care also has some challenges, such as increased risks of criminal justice contact and substance use (45). The topic of foster care in the US is a concerning issue because of the increasing number of children entering. According to KVC Health Systems, 71% of states have reported an increasing number of young people in foster care experienced cases of parental substance abuse. Besides, there is a need for more resources as treatment programs and social workers available are not enough for the demand in foster care. While foster care is not ideal for children, it offers the least bad alternative for the victims of intentional, reckless, and negligent harm from parents.
Foster care provides supportive care for children in need in the US. According to Font and Gershoff (3), there are almost 700,000 young people that are identified as victims of abuse and neglect in the US every year while many are suspected to be at risk. Most of these children need services that will help them handle physical and mental problems, while a substantial number will need temporal or permanent care to protect them from harm. Therefore, foster care provides continued care for such children by placing them with relatives or non-relatives. Others are placed in intensive levels of care depending on their conditions and need for protection from further harm. In 2018, over 680,000 children were under foster care, most of them being victims of neglect, parental substance abuse, and physical abuse (Font and Gershoff 3). Without foster care, such children will not be safe because of risking harm from their parents.
Children get the social support they need to transition into adulthood through foster care. Prince noted that foster care presents supportive and caring relationship from adults that is significant for children to transition to adulthood. For instance, creating a bond with social workers helps them get the necessary things like information and psychological support important in their moving into adulthood. Youths in foster care with one year of established relationships with their mentors record less stress and are less likely to get into problems with the law than those who are not mentored (Prince). However, there are cases where care leavers report cases of lack of support and feelings of loneliness which affects their transition to adulthood. For instance, there are cases of reported lack of support from their family members, care providers, and other institutions (Häggman 16). Therefore, their wishes and needs are ignored, which leads to housing problems, academics, and financial instability.
Social and emotional wellbeing is among the challenges of foster care in the US. According to Nina (2), the social and psychological wellbeing of the people in foster care is affected by the aspects that contribute to their moving from their homes and the factors once in care. Cases of child malpractice can contribute to physical and mental health problems, which can last for a long especially when there are no immediate interventions. Most of the children in foster care are victims of adverse conditions that may threaten their safety and wellbeing. Also, removing the children from their homes can be a devastating experience and confusing to them. Children are sometimes forced to stay for long, including 12 months and more (Nina 2). In this case, the child can sometimes be moved from one foster to the other, putting them at the risk of negative social and emotional impacts. Besides, moving from one foster to the other exposes children to the continued disruption of their relationship with their friends and relatives. Also, frequent changes of professionals like judges and lawyers expose the children to mental problems and the inability to get a permanent home.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. Foster Care, 2022. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/foster-care/. Accessed 23 March 2022.
Font, Sarah A., and Elizabeth T. Gershoff. “Foster Care: How We Can, and Should, Do More for Maltreated Children. Social Policy Report.” Society for Research in Child Development, vol. 33, no. 3, 2020.
Häggman-Laitila, Arja, Pirkko Salokekkilä, and Suyen Karki. “Transition to adult life of young people leaving foster care: A qualitative systematic review.” Children and Youth Services Review no. 95, 2018, pp. 134-143.
KVC Health Systems. Foster Care in America: Realities, Challenges and Solutions, 2018. https://www.kvc.org/blog/foster-care-in-america/. Accessed 23 March 2022.
Prince, Dana M. “Effects of individual risk and state housing factors on adverse outcomes in a national sample of youth transitioning out of foster care.” Journal of Adolescence vol. 74, 2019, pp. 33-44.
Williams, Nina. “The social and emotional well-being of children in foster care.” National Conference of State Legislatures, 2016. https://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/cyf/Social_Emotional_WellBeing_Newsletter.pdf
Yi, Youngmin, and Christopher Wildeman. “Can foster care interventions diminish justice system inequality?” The Future of Children, vol. 28, no.1, 2018, pp. 37-58.