Children in Foster Care - Part II

While it may seem that placing a child with a relative is in the child’s best interest, there are many problems with placing abused children with relatives. 20 Fordham Urb. L.J. 343 at 359. The relative may not support the state’s intervention into the family, and may protect against future abuse by the perpetrator. It should also be noted that when children are placed in non-relative foster homes, the foster family has already be assessed and evaluated, whereas the process is still pending when a child is placed in the home of a relative.

While many relatives are willing to be foster parents to their extended familiy members, many cannot afford to do so. id at 1050. And while there are many federal and state funding programs available to non-relative foster care providers, there are significantly fewer financial incentives available to relatives. Therefore, many children are placed in non-relative family foster homes. Each state has its own guidelines on what requirements a foster parent must meet in order for a child to be placed into their home. In Florida, a potential foster parent can visit www.myflorida.com were a true false questionnaire is provided to access whether a person is ready to go through the process of becoming a foster parent.

Foster care can be defined as “a 24 hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the State agency has placement and care responsibility” Foster Care National Statistics. However, most children entering into a foster family stay with that family for much more than 24 hours. 21% of foster children who left foster care in the second half of 1999 had been in foster care for less than one month. 16% of children had been in foster care for 6-11 months. 19% had been in foster care for 1-2 years. 11% had been in foster care for 2-3 years, and the remaining 10% had been in foster care for 5 or more years. Of these 122,000 children almost 40% were adopted, placed with a legal guardian or relative or emancipated. 60% of these children were reunified with the family they lived with prior to the alleged abuse. As of January of 1999, there are 110,000 children in this country waiting to be adopted. The Administration for Children and Families. Studies indicate that there are only 20,000 families willing to adopt. ACLU Fact Sheet cited from Petit, M. & Curtis, P., Child Abuse and Neglect: A Look at the States, 1997 CWLA Stat Book, Child Welfare League of America, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 72, 124. Many of the children waiting to be adopted are minority children and children with significant health problems. cited from Sokoloff, B., "Antecedents of American Adoption," The Future of Children. Vol. 3, No. 1 (1993), pp. 17-26; Cole, E. & Donley, K., "History, Values, and Placement Policy Issues In Adoption," in The Psychology of Adoption. Eds. David Brodzinsky & Marshall Schecter, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 273-294. These children frequently go from one foster family to another, and can live in more than 20 foster homes by the time they reach 18. id cited from Eagle, R., "The Separation Experience of Children in Long Term Care: Theory, Resources, and Implications for Practice," The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Vol. 64, pp. 421-434 (1994); Robert, G., et al., "A Foster Care Resource Agenda For the 90's," Child Welfare Vol. LXXIII, No. 5, pp. 525-552 (1994).

Each state has its own policies governing adoption. In Florida, gays and lesbians are not permitted to adopt children, even those who have been living in their home as foster children for a prolonged amount of time. www.lethimstay.com The Lofton’s a family living in Florida, has been an foster family for a number of years. They became foster parents for Bert when he was 9 weeks old. At birth, Bert tested positive for HIV, however he no longer does. The state now sees Bert as “adoptable” and has been looking for a new home for the 11 year old, planning to remove him from the only home her has ever known. Florida is one of only a few states that does not allow homosexuals to adopt children, even when they may be the parents best suited to adopt the child. www.lethimstay.com. By doing so, the state often ends of failing to put the child’s needs first.

Perhaps the best way to understand children in foster care is to hear from these children themselves. State Youth Advisory Board Handbook The State Youth Advisory Board of Florida created a handbook for children in foster care. This board, made up of teens that have gone through the foster system in Florida, provides resources to other children as they enter the system. The handbook begins by explaining what foster care is, why a child is placed into foster care and provides child friendly information about the system that will play a large part in their young life.



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