Lack of Support in the Foster Care System

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Lack of Support in the Foster Care System 

In the US there are currently over 400,000 children in the foster care system, and there are many different aspects and parts of the foster care system that are there to ensure that these kids have the best chance at life that they can have. These different parts include the actual foster parents and preservation programs. While these two parts of the foster care system may seem very opposing, the former being the people who care for children when they are in the system, and the latter programs that try and keep kids out of foster care and with their biological families, they are both very important parts of the entire system, and both, if used properly, help kids remain safe and prosper.

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However, in the US there is a striking need for both foster parents and preservation programs. This lack of such vital parts of the foster system has led to those 400,000 children in foster care to be much less safe, less happy, and less able to become successful and contributing members of society. There are many problems in the US foster care system that have led to the lack foster parents and preservation programs, but there are equally as many ways that change could be effected to make these parts of the foster care system much more successful. 

In America, the problem that is creating the lack of foster parents is not direct opposition from people, no one is running around saying that becoming a foster parent is bad, and there is no open bias against them. The opposition to foster parents is much more subtle and comes from the misconceptions, myths, and stigmas that surround the system and especially foster parents. Throughout the history of the foster system in the US these misconceptions, myths, and stigmas have been building every time there is a failure in the system. They have built until today it is one of the biggest discouragers to potential foster parents because they either hear or just believe false ideas pertaining to fostering. In the article, “Dispelling the Myths”, the author writes about these misconceived notions, and that many potential foster parents believe that they are, “too old to foster… need to be a homeowner” or “can’t be a single foster carer.” (“Dispelling the Myths”) These myths and many more are a major contributing factor to why foster kids greatly outnumber foster parents. While there is some truth to these notions, and it can be much harder to foster if people are single, old, or are living in an apartment, they are not insurmountable obstacles. The truth that these, in many ways, silly notions about fostering is what is stopping capable people from fostering kids is tragic.

Misconceptions about foster parents are not new, in 1987 New York had a great need for foster parents and conducted a campaign to try a recruit new parents by putting up numerous billboards across the state, and while it did end up getting a few new foster parents, some people had very clear misconception about what foster care was. The director of program planning, John Courtney, said that “Some said things like. “Yeah, O.K., I’ll take a kid. Why don’t you bring one over tomorrow?’ They didn’t understand that there are extensive investigations we go through before we give anyone a child.”(qtd. in Daley) Foster care is in many ways a very mainstream system, yet it seems people still know nothing about what it actually pertains. It is very simple logic that if people don’t even know what fostering is they have no chance of taking the first steps to pursue becoming a foster parent. Another major contributing factor to the need for foster parents is the lack of support that they get from the government and privately run foster agencies, and also the lack of support from the communities that foster parents are in. The author of “Support your local foster parent” writes about this issue hindering the system and states, “It is evident that most foster parents are not in it for the money. Nevertheless, the disproportionately modest allowance, coupled with the growing difficulty of the job, has taken its toll.” (“Support Your Local Foster Parent”)

The main reason that foster parents foster children is to make a difference and help kids in need, and as this article states not to make money. However, when raising any child money is a factor that needs to be taken into consideration, and if people believe that the toll of taking care of themselves and the foster children is too much, potential foster parents are likely to end up thinking they are unfit to take in foster children. Along with the lack of foster parents, another aspect of foster care that is lacking is preservation programs. While in some places around the country preservation programs have been introduced and have been a very viable, and better option to placing kids in foster care, most of the country has yet to implement them for various reasons. An article highlighting the need for preservation programs states that the biggest reason that preservation programs are not more widely preferred over putting kids in foster care is that when “A child dies at the hand of a parent. Within days, sometimes hours, it becomes known that this child was “known to the system.”’(National Coalition for Child Protection Reform) and as is the trend with many incidents that get into the news, people assume that if it happens once, then it must happen all the time. So out of fear states and agencies end up taking more and more kids out of homes and placing them into the system claiming that it is in the name of protecting the children.

Even though some studies show “cases of sexual abuse in foster care more than four times higher than the rate in the general population” and “three times more physical abuse.”(Gerdes, Louise I) What makes this problem worse is now states are no longer required to follow the guidelines set by the “reasonable efforts” clause, which entails that foster care agencies and states have to at least make some effort to help keep families together before putting kids into foster care. Now states just have to use their discretion before taking kids away from their homes. Opposition to preservation programs cite cases like Rocio Santoyo and her son Salomon as definite evidence that these programs do not work and should be completely abandoned. In her article, Anna Gorman uses the tragic murder of Salomon by his mother Rocio Santoyo in 2004 and others like it to contend that sense some preservation programs have made fatal accidents that it simply does not work, and states, “Salomon’s case… demonstrates how the child welfare system, designed to protect abused and neglected children, sometimes fails them miserably.” (Gorman) But however sad stories like Salomon’s are if just the statistics are looked at and not anecdotal evidence, preservation programs have fewer fatalities then when kids are placed in foster homes. This NCCPR article contends, “The Michigan family preservation program has served 90,000 children… In the decade since there has not been a single fatality. In contrast, when Illinois effectively abandoned family preservation, there were five child abuse deaths in foster care in just one year.” (Gerdes)

When the facts are laid out and not just the tragic mistakes the most logical course of action to keep American children safe is to implement and support preservation programs whenever possible. While there are many problems that are hindering the foster care system, regarding the need for more foster parents and preservation programs, there are many ways in which we can reverse these issues and created a better system for all involved. When it comes to the misconceptions and myths about what it takes to be a foster parent and what it entails; every single person can help eradicate them by simply telling the people around them who are potential foster parents to really look at the facts before making decisions. This problem really should not be a problem at all. The fact that an unfounded stigma is what is stopping people from helping those in our own country who need help the most is an outrage. The greatest part of this is that it doesn’t take a coalition to fix this problem, it doesn’t take laws to be changed, all it takes is people to actually speak out against the myths and let people know the truth. If people in communities when they see others being stopped by stigmas and misconceptions simply tell the truth, at least if then people decide that they don’t want to be foster parents they will be making that choice knowing what it actually is.

Much like the problems with the need for foster parents, the major reason why there is a lack of preservation programs is that most people are ill-informed on what is really the truth, and instead of learning the facts, they just make decisions based on a story they have heard or misconceptions. Instead of looking at the facts peoples baseline beliefs are “attempts to reform troubled families puts children at risk.” (Williams) When in fact, if the facts are taken into account, the statistically safest option for kids is to try to preserve families. And it is unfair to all the kids and families who are affected by people who have this so-called “child first mentality” and don’t know the facts. To get more support for preservation programs peoples mentality and how they view this issue needs to change, that is the only way that we can begin to effect change. The issues of lack of foster parents and preservation programs most likely have never crossed the minds of most people in America. But they are major problems in the US that effect so many people and kids. These issues need to be brought to the forefront of people minds before that anything can ever change. So people across America need to look closely at the facts and not be fooled by the misconceptions that are saturated in these issues, only then can we hope to help those over 400,000 in foster care, and hope to prevent more from entiring.  

Works Cited

  1. Daley, Suzanne. “The Struggle to Recruit Foster Parents.” The New York Times, 6 May 1987. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A176140066/OVIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=OVIC&xid=17e0e3a1. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  2. “Dispelling the Myths.” Evening Gazette [Middlesbrough, England], 27 Apr. 2013, p. 19. Global Issues in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A327767870/GIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=GIC&xid=9e349421. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  3. Gerdes, Louise I., editor. “Family Preservation Programs Are More Effective than Foster Care.” Family Preservation Programs Are More Effective than Foster Care, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010115250/GIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=GIC&xid=9f274ebb. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  4. Gorman, Anna. “Family Preservation Policies Exacerbate Child Abuse.” Child Abuse, edited by Lucinda Almond, Greenhaven Press, Detroit, MI, 2006. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010038243/GIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=GIC&xid=48cd6f94. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  5. National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. “Policies Should Emphasize Family Preservation.” Issue Papers on Family Preservation, Foster Care, and “Reasonable Efforts,”, edited by Roman Espejo, National Coalition For Child Protection Reform (NCCPR), 2002. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010104248/OVIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=OVIC&xid=91ec46ff. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  6. “Support Your Local Foster Parents.” Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada], 17 Aug. 1990, p. A14. Global Issues in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A164450890/GIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=GIC&xid=8e678104. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019.
  7. Williams, Mary, editor. “Family Preservation Is Preferable to Foster Care and Adoption.” Family Preservation Is Preferable to Foster Care and Adoption, 12 Aug. 2005. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010104280/GIC?u=dlc_bellhs&sid=GIC&xid=d05e69d1. Accessed 2 Jan. 2019. 
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Lack of Support in the Foster Care System. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved May 20, 2022 , from
https://studydriver.com/lack-of-support-in-the-foster-care-system/

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