During the month of May, we recognize the estimated 400,000 children who are in the foster care system. Many of these children come from stressful situations and have endured trauma at a very young age. On average, children enter the foster care system at the age of 7. The most common circumstances these children come from include neglect, drug abusive parent(s), caretakers who are unable to cope, and physical abuse. This early trauma they endure could have great psychological effects on their well-being. The end goal of the foster care system is to help support these children and bring them back to loving and stable families.
When children are brought under the foster care system, they are not completely cut off from their families. Depending on the situation of the child and parent, services are created for interaction to occur for these families. Child welfare agencies ensure the child's safety by establishing and regulating supervision. Regular visits between the parent(s) and child are usually allowed with the supervision of a social worker. Agencies are there to also provide economic support for the child within the system. Here are some policies and programs that affect parents and children involved in foster care:
Family First Prevention Services Act: created to ensure a child's return to their family once the parent has been deemed stable. Provides more funding for mental health services for foster care children. This act also allows youths over the limited age of 23 to still receive services provided for foster care children.
John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act: This act provides programs and activities for foster kids and former foster kids to help them develop independence and support themselves. These programs provide help with education, employment, financial management, housing, emotional support, and assured connections.
Education Training Voucher (ETV) Program: funding program created to support foster children with post-secondary education.
Foster children experience different types of trauma. Physical and emotional trauma could cause children to develop different habits that guardians of foster children should look out for. Foster children will often struggle with trusting their guardians. These children may also be prone to engaging in rebellious behavior. Foster children may be hesitant to accept any emotional support a guardian attempts to offer at first. A big part of taking care of foster children is having patience and moving at their pace.
A majority of foster kids are very young in age, but kids who are in their early and late teens do exist within the foster care system. The official age cut-off for an individual to be in the foster care system is 21. Although this is the said cut-off age, there are different loopholes within proposed acts and programs that have allowed individuals to receive the benefits from the foster care system past this age (Ex. Family First Prevention Services Act). Although some individuals in the foster system may be older, they are still in need of emotional family support.
Foster kids face many challenges and struggles. They deserve all the love and support they could get. If you are ever considering adopting a child into your family, remember to consider a foster child. Many eagerly wait for a loving family to accept them. Here are some helpful websites to visit for individuals interested in foster parenting and adopting a foster child:
Child Welfare Information Gateway. “Reporting Systems.” Child Welfare Information
Gateway, 2020, www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/statistics/foster-
Foster Care to Success. “ETV Site.” ETV, www.fc2sprograms.org/.
FosterClub. “FamilyFirstAct.org.” FamilyFirstAct.org |, familyfirstact.org/.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “John H. Chafee Foster Care
Independence Program.” The Administration for Children and Families, 2012,