Foster care protects and takes care of children or teenagers who have been saved from their families following allegations of abuse and neglect or both. The foster care system offers protection and care to children and teenagers removed from their families for neglect or abuse reasons. The system provides permanency, stability, safety, and health to children and teenagers to enhance their well-being. The foster care system operates with one primary objective of establishing permanency through later reunification with family or placing the children under other alternative programs that can provide them with permanent care. Such alternatives may include placement for adoption, with trusted relatives or under guardianship. However, the foster care system receives a lot of complaints and criticism for failing to satisfactorily meet and address the needs of the same children that it purposes to protect. There are numerous problems in the system that reduces the effectiveness of the system. Such issues include dissatisfactory levels of health services offered to the children and teenagers, lack of direction and support upon reaching the age that they are supposed to exit the system and the placement of many rules as well as players that complicate the running of the systems.
Children and teenagers in the foster care system receive low-quality health care services. Numerous barriers hinder the provision of high-quality healthcare services. Coordination is one of the factors that prevent the provision of high-quality care. Care coordination is a problem because of the transitory nature of youths and the presence of different players, such as parents, the court system, and child welfare consultants, in the entire system (Szilagyi 503). The absence of background information, the presence of confidentiality and consent issues, inadequate financial support, insufficient care coordination, long wait period for different health services, and inadequate communication between the different actors also compromise the health care of the foster care population (Szilagyi 503). The population in foster care receives care only when there is a crisis because of the absence of palliative, preventive and planned care. Other factors that bar the provision of quality healthcare include the lack of a proper health background check during placement, complex social dynamics of the group and the commonly poor physical health status of the recruits (Szilagyi 503). Pediatricians may also lack a proper understanding concerning the structure and its regulations, including how to go about coordinating the various disciplines of health provision in a manner that assures quality to this kind of population. Adolescent health care is also complicated by the contradiction of child welfare laws and public health regulations.
The foster care system also involves numerous actors, including families, children, and teenagers in the system, and different consultants (educators, early intervention providers, legal experts, mental and physical health care professional, and child welfare caseworkers among other experts). These actors also must follow different regulations and rules. In turn, hinders coordination of the individual needs of the population in foster care. This population has multiple, intense, and complex needs. The presence of many actors also impairs communication since the foster care system does not have an established data management and information sharing system (Mallon, Gerald, and Peg McCartt 99). It is difficult to accomplish simple tasks for the foster care population. For example, helping teenagers to obtain a driver's license may necessitate extensive paperwork and approval. In turn, this depresses and stresses children and teenagers in the system by making them feel like they cannot navigate their lives. All actors in the system are bound by the system's regulations and rules. The presence of the different rules and players may also frustrate children and teenagers because of the constant surveillance and monitoring.
The foster care system does not offer sufficient support to teenagers who age out of the system. Placing teenagers in group homes deny them the ability to connect with a permanent family. The absence of these connections means that teenagers age out of the foster care environment with an inadequate support network. Statistics show that among every five youths aging out of the system, one of them will become homeless. For every four youths who age out of the system, one will face the criminal law system within the first two years of departing from the foster care (National Conference of State Legislators). Youths turning 18 years old need transitional support because most of them are unprepared to face the world properly. In turn, this can be accomplished by extending the foster care period beyond the age of 18 years to ensure that young adults obtain adequate support from caseworkers and caregivers. The significance of the foster care system, however, must be noted. For example, studies have documented vital improvements in various aspects of the foster care population. These aspects include academic achievement, school attendance, intelligence, development, and health status (Hahn et al. 72). The system offers significant support for abused or neglected children.
In conclusion, the foster care system offers the needed care to the abused and the neglected children and has the potential to positively affect the lives of children and teenagers in the system. The effectiveness of the system, however, is hindered by different issues. The population in the system does not receive high-quality healthcare services because of the lack of coordination between different disciplines and some legal issues related to pediatric care and public health care laws. The population in foster care also lives under constant surveillance and monitoring because of the presence of numerous players and rules, which negatively affects their quality of life. For young adults, aging out of the system without sufficient support network can lead to other problems, such as homelessness and experiences with the justice system. These issues can be handled through advocacy and coordination by the different professionals in the system.
Hahn, Robert A., et al. "The effectiveness of therapeutic foster care for the prevention of violence: a systematic review." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 28.2 (2005): 72-90.
Mallon, Gerald P., and Peg McCartt Hess. Child welfare for the twenty-first century: A handbook of practices, policies, & programs. Columbia University Press, 2014.
National Conference of State Legislators. "Extending Foster Care Beyond 18." Ncsl.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Nov. 2018.
Szilagyi, Moira. "The pediatric role in the care of children in foster and kinship care." Pediatrics in review 33.11 (2012): 496-507.
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