This is going to be my first research round of the year and it feels great to be back on the site. Last year I focused on teen issues that most teens can all relate to, and this year I'm going to continue on this path but branch out to children as well. Without a further or do lets get into the research round.
Research Round 1: Introduction to the Foster Care System
- What is the foster care system?
- How does it work?
- What are the different type of housing situations?
- Who takes care of the children?
What is the foster care system?
Foster care system is a temporary home for children who have birthparents that are unable to care for them.(1,2) It's a home for children when they are in need because of many different circumstances which may include safety, abuse, neglect or if their other family members aren't fit.(2,3) Children are entered into the system at any age below 18 if they have no guardian and they stay until the parent is deemed fit or they are adopted. The main goal for foster care is to reunite parents with children, but if that's not possible then the parent signs away their child and they are put up for adoption. (5) Around the world, children are in need of homes and foster care is there to provide it. Sometimes children return home after the parents work through some things, get adopted by a loving person/ family or some age out and live independently.(2)
How does it work?
The child is placed into a housing arrangement for a couple days to many years until they are adopted or reunited with their parent. With the help of a social worker, children are placed into housing arrangements with foster parents. Foster parents are adults who are wanting to take care of children, take them into their care in a either a group setting or one on one with the intention that the caregiver is looking to adopt them. (1) Not only does foster care take care of the children, there are programs for the parents who are looking to try and get them back. If someone is interested in becoming a foster parent there is a bunch of steps they must go through before receiving a child. (continued below in "who takes care of the children") If they are accepted, the foster parent receives a child or a group and hopefully treats the child/children like their own and they get used to their new environment. Sometimes it takes the child a little while to settle in especially if they were abused or suffered from some traumatic experiences. (4)
What are the different type of housing situations?
There are many different housing situation for children of all ages who are in the system. Each province has their own specific programs and type of homes but generally they are all similar. For teens, there are shelter care (when they are temporary out of their home or awaiting long term care), shelter care/long care homes (is similar to short term care however they offer immediate extended care), therapeutic group homes (provided for disturbed youth who need extra attention) and teens in transition (extra care and love before teens age out of foster care). (6) There are also programs for youth with eating disorder or youth re-engagement (reuniting children with their birth parents). For children, there is foster families (applicable to teens as well) where the child lives in the foster parent's home with their family because they are interested in adoption or are looking for a more personal experiance. Lastly there are group homes available for younger youth who didn't have the opportunity to live with a foster family and don't need extra treatment. (7)
Who takes care of the children?
Anyone who would like to be a foster care parent can be. By filling out an application, attending an info session and then doing an in home interview you have a chance to connect with one of the amazing foster care children. Foster parents do get paid per child if they happen to be running a group home, but the money is used towards the children's needs. As a foster parent, it's your duty to make sure the child is fed healthy meals, proper clothing, accommodation, maintain their health, be smoke free and keep them in contact with family if allowed. Although there are situations where it happens, the money issued to the foster parent is for the child's benefit not their own. (8) The parent also is always in close contact with the child's social worker. A social worker is someone assigned to a specific children and they look over all their paperwork, help children solve problems, plans programs and find a safe place for them to live. (9)
For my next round of research, I'm going to be focusing on ...
Research Round 2: Physical Affects of the Foster Care System On the Children
- What different types of physical abuse do some children face?
- Malnutrition, physical abuse, sexual abuse or drug/alcohol abuse
For each above point I'd like to answer these sub questions:
- How did the abuse start/ who abused the children?
- How do the children cope?
- What are the signs of the abuse?
Feel free to leave comments and any opinions below! Like always they are very appreciated and helpful for my future rounds.