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Essay: Realities of Foster Care

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  • Subject area(s): Social work essays
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  • Published: 15 October 2019*
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  • Words: 1,361 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)

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Unfortunately many children will experience foster care within their life, for many different reasons. Foster care is a tool for the state and child protective services to utilize in protecting children and rebuilding families. This care is meant as a last resort, when every measure to maintain family preservation has been exhausted and more drastic action needs to be taken to prevent the imminent danger to the children. There are many aspects to everything and foster care is no different. While the positive effects and outcomes far outweigh the cons in this reality, in order to best care for the child we must be able to predict the adversities they will face during this time of transition.

Foster care is pivotal in allowing for a diagnostic of the family in a controlled environment while simultaneously educating and training the family to become stronger. Short and long term care have great advantages for both, the children and parents when it becomes necessary for child removal. Initially it begins immediately with providing the much-needed safety and care for the children who are removed from abusive or neglectful homes, allowing them to find relief from their fears and anxieties and start the healing process. The new, temporary home helps provide food, shelter, warmth, material needs, an opportunity for children to get their medical and psychological needs attended to, and the potential to participate in activities they possibly never did in their biological home like sports, camps, or even be around friends outside of school. It allows children an opportunity to be kids! While these functions are important to the growth of a child there are more important skills that need to be learned. During this period the children are able to learn about living and family dynamics in a stable atmosphere while both the parents and children are given an opportunity to learn and practice new skills and behaviors together. It’s a time to encourage the birth parents to face the reality of the situation they have created and be apart of the growth in developing robust and resilient family bonds. Finally, this is a time for the child welfare agencies and the courts to assess and document parents’ progress in order to make the decision for reunification or if an alternate action must be taken.

This transition process has its inherent set backs that can potentially prevent the family from developing the new skillsets needed and delay or even prevent family reunification. When the separation is forced, because of the perceived failure, parents may attempt to sabotage the care and development of their children within the fostering environment. For many the separation can be traumatic for the children, which in turn causes conflict and resistance in the new home. According to futureofchildren.org:

“Children who are removed from their homes and placed in foster care often experience detrimental short and long-term effects. Researchers estimate that 30% to 80% of children in foster care exhibit emotional and/or behavioral problems. Children may experience grief at the separation from or loss of relationship with their natural parents. Children in care also face emotional and psychological challenges and exhibit signs of depression, aggression, or withdrawal. Some children with severe attachment disorders may exhibit signs of sleep disturbance, hoarding food, excessive eating, self-stimulation, rocking, or failure to thrive.”

Overcoming these imbalances is often quite difficult and time consuming making it difficult for treatment to improve. Further inhibiting progress is the children having to adjust to a new lifestyle, new surroundings, possibly a new school, new friends, or new culture making the transition difficult to cope with. Finally, further disrupting any potential stability for the child is after attempts by both the family and child to cope with the new circumstance are made, should the foster parents feel the arrangement is not working, they are free to request removal of the children.

Along with the potential psychological issues foster children face there are several significant issues that need to be addressed while in care. Statistically, academically foster children are often behind their peers due to moving schools, the missing of class, and not starting on time. Foster families can vary in size from the child being the only one in the home to many, depending on the size of the home it may become difficult to have a child’s emotional needs appropriately met. When there are additional children in the foster home, whether biological or other foster children, they may be difficult or rough with the new children or new foster children coming into the home could influence a previously sheltered child in a manner ill conducive to the environment. Through the shared experiences there lays the potentiality to develop a deep attachment between the foster parent and foster children, however, children often choose to return to their blood parents, which could be hurtful to the foster parents and affect the future placement of children within that home.

Foster Parents need to remember that upon initial placement it is not for the purpose of replacing the biological parents. They are there to serve as an integral member of the team set in place for the treatment of the child. Foster parents have a very unique and powerful role; one that can greatly affect the direction the child and parents can take towards their betterment. They are there to serve as a model for the birth parents, demonstrating how to appropriately care for their children. In the end, they must act as advocates for both, the children and the parents in trying to meet the needs and goals of each and have family reunification

Becoming a foster parent is an exceptional way to help support your community and encourages families to build a better future. North Carolina allows any individual to become foster parents given they at least 21 years old, have adequate income to financially support themselves without relying on the foster care payment, must be willing to participate in shared parenting, which means working with the families of children placed in your home. The process is relatively easy to accomplish, beginning with those interested first completing an online orientation. The state law requires that all foster homes be licensed to care for children in their care that is obtained after completing a 30 hour training course through the supervising agency and successfully passing a home assessment which includes a fire inspection, environmental and health regulations check, must have a working telephone, and provide each child with their own personal bed. As well, the perspective foster parents must meet and household members must meet minimum physical and mental health requirements and pass background check.

The circumstances in which a child falls into foster care are many and unfortunate; this program is in place as in instrument in rehabilitating families to a state of strength and resilience. This option in care is only enacted when every route to keep the family together have been exercised and more drastic action needs to be taken to prevent the child from imminent danger. Foster care brings immense assistance in family development to those in need, when all parties actively participate. Not all gains are always positive, children in the care frequently experience damaging psychological affects that create drawbacks in treatment. Foster parents remain as a strong ally to the children and parents with a common goal. Although the prospect of issue persists, the irrefutable gains in family restoration commensurate the challenges faced.

WORKS CITED

  • Children: Foster Care. (n.d.). Retrieved August 04, 2016, from http://www.survivorshipatoz.org/hiv/articles/children-foster-care/?sid=65
  • Crosson-Tower. (2004, Winter). Meeting the Challenges of Contemporary Foster Care. Retrieved August 03, 2016, from http://www.futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=40
  • FOSTER CARE. (n.d.). Retrieved August 04, 2016, from https://www2.ncdhhs.gov/dss/fostercare/
  • Long Term Fostering. (2013, May 13). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://getrevising.co.uk/grids/long_term_fostering
  • Meeting the Challenges of Contemporary Foster Care. (2004). Retrieved August 3, 2016, from http://www.futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=40
  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Buchanan, R., & Fisher, P. A. (2015, July/August). Adverse Consequences of School Mobility for Children in Foster Care: A Prospective Longitudinal Study. Child Dev Child Development, 86(4), 1210-1226. doi:10.1111/cdev.12374

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