Often times, the children who are put into the foster care system come from difficult home lives where they may have endured different types of abuse or neglect by their parents. Many of these children suffer from behavioural disorders, PTSD, or any other mental or physical disorders as a result of the treatment they were receiving at home. One of the main reasons to place children in foster care is to put them in a better environment where the caregivers are able to support and accommodate their special needs. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some foster care children. Sometimes, children are put into homes where their experiences are just as bad or worse than what they had experienced when living with their natural parents. Children in foster care may be abused by their foster parents, relatives or partners of foster parents, by other children in the placement or by their own relatives when they are reunited.
"Official statistics show that 28% of children and youth in America are abused while in the foster care system."
Official statistics show that 28% of children and youth in America are abused while in the foster care system. Some studies have shown that maltreatment is confirmed for less than 1% of foster carers each year. However, these statistics may be severely underestimated as many of the kids in the foster care system are conditioned to not speak up about the abuse they endure. The abuse of children and youth in the system can be overlooked as staff members are overwhelmed with the number of children they need to monitor and the responsibilities and paperwork that come with it. In the year 2018-2019, there was a monthly average of 10,000 children and youth being put in care. The paperwork would oftentimes trump staff visits to a home, as the paperwork is required for the agency to maintain funding. As a result, the staff can become lenient in their evaluations of a foster home. So, children are then being kept in abusive foster care families that they are assigned to instead of being moved. This can lead to children experiencing and developing a variety of long term psychological and emotional issues. Research has shown that children being victimized by abuse or those living in unstable foster environments are more likely to do poorly in school, have a distrust for authority, and may be more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use at a younger age.
So, is there hope for these children and youth? The answer is YES!
James is a man who was put into the foster care system at the age of 1. For the next 18 years, he, unfortunately, was in and out of neglectful and abusive homes. Although abuse in the foster care system can sometimes be the reality for some children like James, there is often a light at the end of the tunnel for many that lead them to positive experiences. James was eventually connected with a caseworker that listened to him, took him seriously, and most of all, helped him grow to be the person he is today. James explains that he now has a burning passion to make sure that other foster youths do not experience what he did. James is now graduating from an upstanding university with a Master's in Social Work.
"Although abuse in the foster care system can sometimes be the reality for some children like James, there is often a light at the end of the tunnel for many that lead them to positive experiences."
If we look at the statistic mentioned before that 28% of children and youth placed in homes are abused, we would also see that the other 72% of children who enter the foster care system do end up leading better lives. It is unfortunate that abuse in the foster care system does happen to some, but there are many wonderful and compassionate parents, as well as smart and competent social workers that do nurture and love the children within the foster care system.
Written By: Dayna