Introduction There are several reasons why children enter foster care such as abandonment, caregiver’s death, domestic violence, medical neglect, parent’s incarceration, physical abuse, sexual abuse, truancy, and voluntary placement. Sadly, many homes have more than one of the following issues and a child enters the foster care system for numerous reasons. Annually tens of thousands of children in the United States are placed in foster care. These children are often burdened by the unprecedented levels of domestic violence, physical, emotional, and mental abuse in their homes.
Oftentimes, seeking a more nurturing environment amongst relatives for the child is unsuccessful and the foster care system is a last recourse. This paper discusses the various reasons for foster care placement and the effects it has on the children that are not able to find relative placement. Literature related to domestic violence and child welfare has demonstrated the importance of placement stability to these children’s future well-being.
Social workers employed with forensic clients in foster care need to understand the foster care system, as it is essential to completely evaluate both the rewards and drawbacks to prevent further trauma. Overview In 1636 Benjamin Eaton became the nation’s first foster child, however it was Charles Loring Brace that laid the foundation that lead to the foster home movement. Brace inspiration grew due to the large number of children sleeping in the streets of New York. Majority of the children sleeping in the streets had immigrant parents.
Brace sought homes for them by advertising in the South and West for families willing to provide free homes for these children, whether for charitable reasons or whatever help these children could be to them. In many cases, these children were placed in environments similar to indenture. However, Brace’s daring and creative action became the foundation for the foster care movement as it exists now. Although, there is noticeable changes to the foster care system and the policies that govern them there is still a vast gap in research regarding the children that experience various traumas prior to foster care.
Literature Review The National adoption Agency defines foster care as “a temporary arrangement in which adults provide for the care of a child or children whose birth parent is unable to care for them. Foster care is not where juvenile delinquents go. It is where children go when their parents cannot, for a variety of reasons, care for them” (Unknown, 2005). Professionalism is a mandatory tenet for social workers, thus upholding the standards established in the Code of Ethics demands social workers acquire the needed skill sets to understand the rigors of foster care as it is essential to completely evaluate both its rewards and drawbacks.
Foster care must be discussed and observed, children living with the biological parent sometimes live in an atmosphere that does not promote the child social and emotional growth. The forensic social worker must take a comprehensive look on the effects of domestic violence and how it affects the child’s emotional, mental, and psychological well-being as placement in foster care may contribute to additional trauma for a child. Policies Governing Foster Care There is a list of policies and laws that govern the foster care system.
These policies and laws are established at different levels of government that spans from the federal, state, and local level. In 1961 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFCD) was established to provide federal guideline for foster care. Pecora (2008) these policies were embedded in nine major laws passed by the U. S. Congress designed to provide care for children of families receiving AFDC funds who could not remain safely in their homes. Effects of Domestic Violence The number of children who have been exposed to domestic violence each year vary.
Research suggests that nearly 30 million hildren in the United States will be exposed to some type of family violence before the age of 17, and there is a 30 to 60 percent overlap of child maltreatment and domestic violence (Hamby, Finkelhor, Turner, & Ormrod, 2011; Taggart, 2011). Children who have been exposed to domestic violence are more likely than their peers to experience a wide range of difficulties, and the potential effects vary by age and developmental stage. The challenges faced by children and youth exposed to domestic violence generally fall into three categories, behavioral, social, and emotional problems, Cognitive and attitudinal problems, and Long-term problems.
Estimates of the number of children who have been exposed to domestic violence each year vary. Research suggests that nearly ly 30 million children in the United States will be exposed to some type of family violence before the age of 17, and there is a 30 to 60 percent overlap of child maltreatment and domestic violence (Hamby, Finkelhor, Turner, & Ormrod, 2011; Taggart, 2011). Effects of Neglect (Emotional and Mental) A growing amount of children are being placed in foster care because of parental neglect.
Neglect has very profound and long-lasting consequences on all aspects of child development to include the lack of ability to form attachment, delayed physical development, and antisocial behaviors. Children that are subjected to an environment that limits the amount of emotional support creates difficulties for a child to develop the brain connections that facilitate language and vocabulary development, and therefore may impair communication skills. Researchers also have begun to explore why, given similar conditions, some children experience long-term consequences of abuse and neglect while others emerge relatively unscathed.
The ability to cope, and even thrive, following a negative experience is often referred to as “resilience. ” It is important to note that resilience is not an inherent trait in children but results from a mixture of both risk and protective factors that cause a child’s positive or negative reaction to adverse experiences. A number of protective and promotive factors individually, within a family, or within a community may contribute to an abused or neglected child’s resilience. These include positive attachment, self-esteem, intelligence, emotion regulation, humor, and independence (Shaffer, 2012).
Important/Salient Issues Currently more than 500 000 children are in foster care in the United States. Majority of these children have been the victims of repeated abuse and prolonged neglect and have not experienced a nurturing, stable environment during the early years of life. A stable environment is necessary to ensure both short- and long-term development of a child’s brain and the ability to subsequently participate fully in society. However, children in foster care have disproportionately high rates of physical, developmental, and mental health problems which are salient issues to address.
The forensic social worker is therefore a delegated with the responsibility to address, evaluate, and advocate these needs. To develop into a psychologically healthy human being, a child must have a relationship with an adult who is nurturing, protective, and fosters trust and security. Attachment to a primary caregiver is essential to the development of emotional security and social conscience. Continuation of these problems is caused by the lack of attachment to the foster parent due to limited time in a new house, these children do not connect with the foster parents.
Some foster parents are willing to keep the child as long as necessary, but others are selfish and are in the program just for the money. This is a main source of children’s health being neglected while in foster care. (Conn, 2004) Further Research Further research on the magnitudes of children experiencing abandonment, caregiver’s death, domestic violence, medical neglect, parent’s incarceration, physical abuse, and sexual abuse can offer significant insights in the development of alternative interventions that may benefit both the children in foster care and the forensic social workers.
Especially, research on geared towards educating social workers about the nature, extent, and significance of abusive and neglectful experiences in childhood. As these experiences may result in terrible and pricy outcomes for children, their families, and society as a whole. Gaining new data regarding the nature of the consequences of child abuse and neglect will help justify and support preventive interventions. Advance research is also needed to assess the cognitive, intellectual, medical, physiological, psychosocial, behavioral, and psychiatric impact these issues have on children placed in foster care.
Children are not cookie cut therefore, treating all the children placed in foster care based on the fact they share similar life circumstance should be reviewed. Cultural sensitivity as it relates to the cultural contexts of the child/ children background and the foster care placement needs more research. Existing research has focused on physical and sexual abuse, with relatively little attention to neglect or emotional maltreatment as it regards to cultural practice.
This would bring about rapid change in research practice since the number of immigrant children placed in foster care as risen. Research on child abandonment, caregiver death, and parent’s incarceration deserves to be expanded as an important entrance to understanding the concerns and its role in providing the forensic social worker with ideas as it relates to helping the client. In regards to emotional abuse, conducting new studies would give more insight that relates to the various forms of behavior disorders and developmental delays in children that are placed in foster care.
Conducting in-depth research that examines the timing, duration, severity, and nature of effects over the life course in a variety of cultural environments would be quite beneficial to the social work profession Conclusion Important concepts learned as a result of writing this paper includes the correlation between foster care and the various issues that affect the children in the foster care system, strategies for collaborating with community partners, and resources and guidance on working with culturally diverse families.
The co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment is a serious and pervasive social problem. The adverse effects of domestic violence on children can include behavioral, social, emotional, and cognitive problems that may last into adulthood. Knowing these factors gives clear insight and a new perspective on the foster care system, resulting in the creation of a positive impact regarding future social work practice with forensic social work clients. In conclusion, our children are a vital component in society. Unfortunately, many children lack the environment that promotes growth and stability.
This is an issue that is ignored by the majority of society and the government; in some cases. Though the Foster Care System is lacking in many areas without the foster care system these children would be left behind and overlooked. Foster Care provides these children with homes and parents that can guide them along life’s path. The American foster system is seen as a failure; however, improvement can be made through mentoring programs, finding more stable homes for foster children, and close supervision from government agencies.
Mandatory classes for all forensic social workers to give a better insight of what to expect upon entering these homes and how the people that they encounter may be different. Classes can improve the forensic social worker ability to interpret with more accuracy if the children really are in life threatening danger. All of these will contribute to the overall mental and physical well-being of these children entering and exiting the foster care system.