The Foster Care System

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The foster care system

The foster care system


Foster Care is defined as temporary shelters for children removed from their homes for various reasons including abuse, neglect, adoption, death and illness. The central goal of the foster care system is to provide abused and neglected children with safety, permanency, and well-being. One of the most significant organizations in setting standards for child welfare services is the Child Welfare League of America, started in 1920.

According to CWLA (Child Welfare League of America), 513,000 children were in the foster care system in America on September 30, 2005.Of those 513,000, 6% were ages one or younger, 26% were ages 1-5, 20% were ages 6-10, 28% were ages 11-15, 18% were ages 16-18 and 2% were over the age of 18. The average amount of time spent in the foster care system for children in the year 2005 was 28.6 months. For that same year over 50% of children were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

In the state of Virginia in 2005, there were 53,792 referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of those, 27,937 cases required more investigation. Twenty-six of the 53,792 died because of abuse or neglect. In my opinion, 26 dead children are too many when there are simple things that can be implemented or changed to improve the foster care system.

Body: Discussion and Analysis

Providing care for children with abusive, neglectful, or indigent parents has long been a concern in this nation, and some form of foster care has been in place in America since colonial time. In the 1600's and 1700's abused, neglected, and poverty-sticken children were placed either in the poorhouses or with other families as indentured servants, to be released upon adulthood (Schor, 1982). In the 1800's orphanages became popular repositories for these children, and this remained the choice until the first two decades of the twentieth century. In response to a desire to better meet the needs of abused, neglected, or poverty-striken children, a 1909 White House conference acknowledged that home environments were preferable to institutions, and poverty did not predetermine removal from the home. American law makers then responded to the desire to better serve these children by opening up the public purse, and by the 1920's, all states had all some form of Aid to Families of Dependent Children (Schor, 1982). With the use of federal and state monies, many at-risk children were able to remain at home. For the next thirty years, children were placed in foster care primarily in response to family illness, extreme poverty, or parental mental illness (dosReis, Zito, Safer, & Soeken, 2001; Schor, 1982), and foster care was a final safety net for families in medical or financial crisis. The causes for foster care placement changed throughout the 1960's and the 1970's, and in the early 1980's, it was reported that parental abuse and neglect was "one of, if not the most important, precipitating circumstances" (Schor, 1982, p. 523).

Finally, in August 1997, the National Center for Policy ...
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