Living in a Foster Care

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There are millions of children in the foster care system today. Rather the reason being parents on drugs or parents not being able to care for the children financially, the children are left for someone else to care for them. Many of children that are in foster care have mental health issues. Not only do they have mental health issues, but they are considered to be more prone to commit crimes. For some many reasons, males are more prone to commit crimes than females. In this paper, the reason of why foster children have mental health issues will be discussed. There will also be a comparison of females versus males with mental health issues within the foster care system and the crimes that are committed.

Children in foster care are more likely to have mental problems than other children for several reasons. Some of the reasons have a snowball effects on the children, which results in a percentage of the foster care children having developmental problems, behavioral problems and medical problems in the foster care system. The issues cause them to lose their placements in foster parent's home.  Eventually, the children start to experience going from placement to placement which cause them to become confused and they could start to develop mental problems.

            One of the article compared foster care children who have been placed in many foster homes with general population of children. The document even compared these displaced, misplaced, and replaced children with other foster care children who have been placed in a stable foster home for a long time.  The study showed that the foster care children who had unstable foster home have developed chronic illnesses and mental problems. Now that the discussion of why children in foster care have mental health issues has been discussed, the discussion will move to females in foster care with mental health issues.

Female in Foster Care with Mental Health Issues

Children in foster care are at a greater risk for mental illnesses such as depressive disorder, mania, and posttraumatic stress disorder. (Woods, S. B., Farineau, H. M., & McWey, L. M. (2013). According to data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), 16.8% of girls ages 14-17, and 45.1% of girls ages 18-20, had experienced at least one pregnancy (National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). With the feeling of not belonging to anyone, females in the foster care system turn to sex and crimes to experience belongingness from whomever would accept them. With a study that was done with children in early adolescence years, the children in the foster care system were interviewed. Along with the interview of the children, the caregivers, foster parents, and staff of group homes were interviewed as well. High scores of mental illnesses were found in children in foster care which includes clinical depression. Now that mental illnesses in females that are in foster care has been discussed, the discussion will now move to mental illnesses in males that are in foster care.

Males in Foster Care with Mental Health Issues

Children that are placed in foster care already has the odds against them. Some come from broken homes and are instantly diagnosed with mental health problems once taken into the system. The males with mental health problems that are in foster care are considered as more at-risk than females with mental health problems. Many may wonder how the systems of care operate to address the risk for everyone. Studies have found that children in the foster care system use mental health services at a rate of 10-20 times higher than children in the general population (Harman & Childs 2000). This is because the youth are court ordered to services as part of their case plan while they are in foster care. Social workers and others play a major part because they ensure that the youth has guaranteed access to and utilization of mental health services to comply with the court orders.

Males are more at risk than females because they tend to neglect the services that are provided for them. Racial ethnic disparities have been clearly documented in the receipt of mental health services as studies has shown that African American and Latino foster care children are less likely to utilize mental health services than their white counterparts. African American and Latinos may refuse to use services provided for them because they may feel as if their peers would judge them. This explains why more African-American and Latino youth from foster care committee more crimes. Services are provided daily for the individuals to help them cope with their problems; however, they decline the services that are provided for them. Now that the discussion of mental health issues in males that are in foster care has been discussed, the discussion will now move to crimes committed by children in foster care.

Crimes Committed by Children in Foster Care

 Living in foster care was horrible. My brothers and I lived in multiple homes because we either ran away because of the abuse or  the organization removed us for unfit conditions. There were lots of days I had to steal food in order to feed my brothers and I. The three of us have all experience tragedy rather it was being lied on, not feed, or even rapes. We all suffer from some sort of issues causing one of my brothers to go to prison, the other is an acute alcoholic, and I'm fighting each and everyday. Even though I've moved on and am now successful, the memories are still there.


      One would think that a child given the opportunity to be placed in foster care would bless them with a fresh start at life. Sadly, this is not the case. It's the opposite. According to the Supreme Court in Smith V. Organization of Foster Families, "foster care has been condemned as a class-based intrusion into the family life of the poor (Smith 1977). One to things children endure in foster care poverty or mistreatment. It's very rare children recieve great care in foster homes. On the other hand, children that are mistreated and unfortunate are likely commits crimes.

According to Pelton, poverty is a big indicator for potential child abuse and neglect because the environments and contexts in which impoverished people must live create inherent dangers for children, even though the consequent abuse or neglect may not be intentional (Pelton). It's not the parent are intentionally  neglecting the children, it just maybe that fact that the parents could not financially support them. As a result, the child may turn to crimes such as drug selling drugs to make a quick dollar, robbing, or even burglarizing.  To them, it the means to living. To the rest of the world, it's heinous crimes

Eventually all the stress of maintaining the fast life could result into a possible mental breakdown. This could easy cause the child to be persuaded to do drugs and commit simple crimes to help with the stress. Not only will stress from new unfortunate can lead to simple crimes but it can cause the child to become aggressive. Professionals in child welfare have long believed that the poorer the child, the more at-risk that child is for abuse and neglect.


Sadly, living in foster care is not  the All American Dream, for the average child. It's actually worst for a child with mental health disorders. A lot of the children that are placed in foster care are likely to be struggling with a mental disorder rather it developmental including behavior and medical. Because of the lifestyle, the children are more at risk of committing crime. Its shown that males are more likely to engage into crime than females. Not saying female would not commit crimes, but males tend to neglect the use of services and help provided. Because of the hard lifestyle, crimes such as robbery, burglary, and stealing are usually committed in order to survive.

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Living In A Foster Care. (2019, Dec 11). Retrieved April 13, 2024 , from

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