Families Split in Foster Care
October 17, 2018
Every year, more than 250,000 children fall into the foster care system. When a parent cannot take care of a child, they are placed in foster care where they are expected to live in better conditions, but this is not always the case. Once placed in the system, a child is placed in a home with foster parents or a group home. Often, children move in a constant rotation from house to house. This rotation is strenuous on the child and it forces them to have trouble trusting adult figures when all they want is a secure household.
I feel the government should give more financial resources to parents who want to raise their children, but financially cannot afford to. For example, a woman named Anna had four children removed and placed in foster care because she did not have money to take care of them. Anna had no house and relied on “couchsurfing and overcrowded apartments” (Schelbe, Lisa). She explains she wants to raise her own children, “I know I cannot be what the foster mother is giving them…Do I want my kids to be out there on the streets with me? No, I don’t. Do I want them to be fed right, taken care of right? Yes, I do. So that’s why I have them with the foster mom” (Schelbe, Lisa). What if Anna had similar government resources as foster parents, the resources to care for her children. In fact, “in some states, payments to foster parents caring for four kids equal the after-tax income of a $35,000-a-year job. The money is tax-free” (Gail Vida Hamburg). Anna could use this money to provide basic necessities for her children and a stable home for her family.
I feel that there are too many children in the unstable and unreliable foster care system. Currently, 23,000 children are enrolled in the foster care system until 18 years old (NYFI). When a child is placed in foster care, there is so much that can go wrong. To begin, uncommitted foster parents quit after short terms, “as 60% quit within the first year of becoming a foster parent. 22% percent said they quit because of economics; others cited the lack of support such as backup and respite care as reasons for leaving the program” (Gail Vida Hamburg). When foster parents quit and close their doors to foster children suffer. Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent, but it is important that those who are ready, stay foster parents for as long as they can. Secondly, these experiences force many children to distrust other adults. Michael B. Pines, a psychologist, says, “every new placement is a loss. The result is that these kids begin [to] not trust anyone” (Craig, Conna).
I feel positive birth family is a great advantage to children who have struggled in foster care system. Children who prefer living with their own family and are in a relatively safe environment should be allowed to. For many parents, when they have a child, their parental instincts should step in for the sake of the child. This can be motivation for parents to clean up their lives through finding a job, a house, and help. It is heartbreaking when your child is taken away from his family. Many of these children want and need their family, “90% of the children who enter foster care ultimately return home. And as many as 60% who are being prepared to live independently when they grow out of the system instead return to live with their families” (Gail Vida Hamburg). If a child goes home after foster care, the foster care system simply adds more difficulty to the life of the child. The foster care system does not always know which children would like to stay in their home or which children would like to leave their home.
It is time to lower the number of unnecessary children in the foster care system, to create an opportunity for children who need a new, secure home. The future process of the foster care system should include an interview with the child and a member of Child Protective Services (CPS) to find out if the child wants to go into the system or stay with the family, after seeing the conditions they are currently living in. Then, the member of CPS should advise the family to apply for and help secure funding from the government.