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Why are children in foster care?

Why are children in foster care? Excellent question. One basic answer: for their own safety.

Why are children in foster care? While I am going to break down categories as to why children are in foster care, it boils down to - safety. After there is PROOF - or strong suggestions - that the child is not in a safe home, or with safe caregivers, then the child protective services will create a plan to move the child. They are simply doing their job. Child protective services are not evil, mean, homewreckers. These people have a job to do - keep children safe.

Children are in foster homes because of physical abuse.

Physical abuse means that the child is injured in such a way that there are marks on their body. These marks are bruising, burns, or injuries. It can be from sustained fractured bones. It could be from abuse and then sometimes threats of future physical abuse occur. If the caregiver does not get what they desire in the behavior of their child, threats are made.

Physical abuse is not the same as a spanking. A spanking where no marks are left is not considered physical abuse and is not a reason for the child to be taken from an unsafe environment.

Children are in foster care because of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse is, according to Merriam Webster,

the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion or the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity. Any allegation of this nature is investigated and child protective service workers do what they deem fit based upon their state laws and policy and procedures.

- Merriam-Webster dictionary online

Often, there is a team that makes the decision to remove the child. No one person makes the decision.

Children are in foster care because of neglect.

Why are children in foster care? Neglect. Neglect is a form of ignoring the child's needs - physical, mental, emotional, or educational. Many times the neglect comes because the caregiver is on drugs. The United States drug epidemic has led to an increase in neglect due to this. Many children suffer because caregivers are addicted to drugs and cannot purposefully parent their child. The child may experience a sense that they are, in fact, the adult in the home. This means taking on a new role. These kids often get themselves ready for school, make meals, or care for younger siblings. Drug abuse can happen continuously or at random times.

Some parents may be good parents part of the time. Then, those same parents may partake in drug addiction patterns that warrant sporadic parental activities. Their children are even left alone for long periods of time without a caregiver during a binge or partying episode. This would be neglect.

Educational neglect would fall under excessive truancy that goes against the local board of education policy for attendance.

Neglect could also be manifested when the living conditions are less than adequate. For example, have you seen an episode of hoarders? This would warrant a referral to a child protective services department. The children would be removed until the living conditions were suitable in the state's eyes. If the utilities, for example, power, or running water are not acceptable, then the child could be removed. Until these resources are put back into place to create a safe living condition for the child, foster care is a valid option. Many times these are the shortest stays in foster care.

Many reasons exist for foster care placement.

Parental incarceration, death, or illness are three other reasons children would need to be placed into foster care.

When you get sick, you may have family members that you can call to take your child for the day, the week, or the month. However, some people do not have that privilege. Some people do not have a quality support system. When a crisis enters a family, the adult must deal with that crisis and the children suffer by having to go to a foster home. You may not believe this would happen, but it does.

When there is no will and last testament, children will be placed in foster care to eventually go up for adoption. Another option would be finding a next of kin. Note that a "kin" could also be a family friend or anyone with a current relationship with the child.

I knew a young man who had to go into foster care because his mother was chronically ill. He said his life got better in the foster care system compared to life with his sick mother. His home life with her care was less than ideal. He still got visits with her until she passed away. She lived in an assisted living facility while he was in foster care.

Voluntarily placed children in foster care?

Yes, sometimes, unfortunately, parents will place their child into the foster care system. When a child is unruly and a parent cannot handle the behaviors of the child, they can be placed into the foster care system.

Also, along those same lines... When a juvenile appears before a court that judge can determine a child should go into a foster home. If the judge believes that being outside of his or her natural home would be beneficial to the child, he may order this route. These reasons have to do with parenting and parenting styles. This would be reevaluated periodically and other plans would be in place for visits with parents.

No matter the reason children are placed into the foster care system...

Why are children in foster care? Lots of reasons. But with children going into the foster care system, please consider foster parenting. Someone needs to step up to the plate and be there for these kids in their time of need. SOMEBODY needs to be stable. SOMEBODY needs to be a source of refuge. Each year there are over 400,000 kids in foster care. For more information, read this eye-opening article:

Check out this post on "Who can be a foster parent?" I share the qualities that would make you a good foster parent. You don't need to be perfect. You need to be willing!

What other reasons would you think children were placed in foster care? Are we too strict or too lenient when putting kids in foster care? Do we need more workers in the protective services industry? How should we recruit these workers? What are your greatest fears about becoming a foster parent?

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Impressing Minds is about creating value in the mind of a child through the foster parents. Imagine the mind of a child being made of play-doh, and you are about to make a permanent impression. What type of impression will you make? I will encourage you to make a soft, lasting, affirmative impression in their mind by giving tools to get started fostering, accomplishing a great foster care home, and serving the children in your care. I offer support to you and others fostering. An important element of Impressing Minds is the support that others have given to those in need.


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