The goal of foster care is to provide support and care for a young person from a family in crisis in order that either reunification with parent(s) or other family members or another suitable permanent living arrangement can be facilitated.
At times, the bond that develops during foster care will lead to the foster parents adopting the child. In some instances, children may be placed in a long-term foster placement.
In America, the foster care system is one in which a certified, stand-in “parent(s)” cares for minor children who have been removed from their birth parents or other custodial adults by state authority. These foster parents have a huge responsibility to care for these children, and most children come into foster care with many emotional and physical issues.
Some parents can voluntarily place their children in foster care until they can show the state that they can provide appropriate care. If not the rights of the birth parents are terminated and the child is adopted. Voluntary foster care may be utilized in circumstances where a parent is unable or unwilling to care for a child. A child may have behavioral problems requiring specialized treatment or the parent might have a problem which results in a temporary or permanent inability to care for the child(ren) due to financial hardship or the inability to physcologically handle the disability of the child.
In either case, children are placed in foster care most times because the state believes that to do so is necessary for the child’s safety.
A foster parent(s) receives monetary reimbursement from the state for each child while the child is in his/her home. This helps to cover the cost of meeting the child's needs. The amount of financial assistance typically varies from state to state and even city to city.
Foster parents must meet certain requirements that vary by jurisdiction, as do monetary reimbursement and other benefits foster families may receive. Foster home licensing requirements are generally overseen by each state’s Department of Human Services or Social Services. Some states allow each county to have this responsibility. All state services for foster care are monitored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that in January 2008 there were more than 500,000 children in the foster care systems throughout the United States. Current trends show more children entering the system than exiting. Among the children who are currently placed, there are approximately 20,000 children who will emancipate or age out of the system this year. This is quite a frightening thought for these youths, who essentially have not been able to adapt a permanent and stable structure that would have prepared them for the challenges they would be facing as adults.
Most children found to be unable to function in a foster home may be placed with in a Residential Treatment Center run by the state or in a state group home. The hope is that these children will be treated so that they may return to foster care or be adopted. Those not adopted, which is nearly half, are generally on their own when they turn 18. These children lack a support structure, such as a family, and are left to fend for themselves once they turn 18.
Each state will continue to receive funding while it keeps the child in foster care. This may create a “perverse financial incentive” to place and retain children in foster care rather than leave them with their parents, and incentives are sometimes set up for maximum intervention. Adoption would be the best option for these children’s futures.
Adoption through the foster care system in Texas is very afforable to all families, most times just being a fraction of the cost of private or agency adoptions. The State of Texas provides a four year scholarship to any state college for each child adopted from its foster care system,. Adoption through the foster care system saves many children the horrible future of being homeless at the age of 18.
Family rights groups in North America have been springing up and sharing the stories of children who face physical and sexual abuse in their homes and in some instances, in foster care. While it is not the norm, abuse can occur in foster homes.