ERIC Number: ED438889
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997
Reference Count: N/A
Foster Care Today. A Briefing Paper.
This paper addresses the current status of foster care, how the system got that way, and the characteristics of a reconceptualized foster care system that will be responsive to today's social conditions as an integral part of broad child welfare reform. The paper begins by discussing four factors that have contributed to the dramatic increase in the number of children in foster care: (1) more reports of child abuse and neglect; (2) increasing rates of re-entry into foster care; (3) increased time that children spend in care; and (4) the impact of other service systems on the number of children and young people served by the foster care system. It goes on to explain that, in addition to the problem of increasing numbers, are the problems of emotional/behavioral disturbances, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, medically fragile and physically handicapped children, more infants and young children, more children and youth of color, and the changing nature of foster placements, such as kinship foster care. It then explores the historical roots of the foster care system, including the issues of poverty, homelessness, alcohol and other drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, and adolescent pregnancy and parenting. The paper asserts that the system must address several critical needs: (1) the children in care with their health, mental health, and developmental and educational needs; (2) the biological families with whom the system is working; (3) an adequate number of qualified foster parents; and (4) a highly skilled staff. The paper concludes by discussing a reconceptualization of foster care based on new recognition of children's connections to and embeddedness in their families and their communities. This new recognition is discussed in terms of five themes: (1) the importance of family to children; (2) children's lifelong connections to their families; (3) the uniqueness of families; (4) the shifting availability of family members; and (5) the need to broadly define family or family-like support. The paper concludes by noting that the federal Family Preservation and Family Support Program provides an excellent vehicle for beginning the reconceptualization in light of these themes. (Contains 66 references.) (EV)
Descriptors: Change Agents, Change Strategies, Child Welfare, Family Involvement, Family Needs, Family Problems, Foster Care, Foster Children, Foster Family, Youth Problems
Child Welfare League of America, 440 First St., N.W., Suite 310, Washington, DC 20001-2085. Tel: 202-638-2952; Fax: 202-638-4004.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Child Welfare League of America, Inc., Washington, DC.