Foster care provides family life and temporary care for children who cannot live with their parents. When their domestic problems have been resolved and their parents are equipped to take care of them, children often return home.
However, some children stay in foster care for a longer-term. Some move on, and live on their own, while others are adopted by other families who open their homes for them.
Foster care isn’t the place where youth offenders or juvenile delinquents go, though. Instead, again, it’s a place where children, whose parents cannot take care of them, for a host of reasons, stay. It can be arranged through social service or the courts.
But while its main goal is the reunification of a child to their birth parents, it may turn into an adoption – if it’s for the child’s best interest. And that makes things permanent.
The negative effects of foster care on the health and behavior of children
Over half a million children are in foster care in the US alone. Many of them have been victims of prolonged neglect or repeated abuse.
They haven’t experienced a stable and nurturing home environment during their development years, which are supposed to be critical to their brain’s short- and long-term development as well as to their social skills.
In foster care, however, children don’t really have a good living condition. In fact, foster care living can cause them developmental, physical and mental health problems.
Unfortunately, even before entering foster, many of these children have unmet health and medical needs as well.
A few causes include drug or alcohol use during pregnancy, premature birth or early neglect is contributing to developmental delays among foster children.
Delay departments include a delay in achieving physical milestones, such as walking. They can also have communication delays, such as talking and formulating words and sentences in the manner that children their age do. Even if they face communication issues in the foster care setting, children still don’t get speech therapy that can help them overcome communication and language challenges.
As a result, they’re more likely than not to perform poorly at school and repeatedly receive poor grades.
All these things might have been brought about by the early influences they received on development and health.
Mental health problems
In addition, foster children have a higher tendency to suffer from mental disturbances. These include poor social skills, anxiety, and depression.
They also exhibit negative and hostile behaviors, such as aggression and anger. As a result, foster children are using more mental health resources than those who aren’t in foster care. Substandard living conditions
Those in the foster system can also be subject to poor living conditions. For example, those placed in the foster system in the State of California are usually subjected to substandard conditions and lack of supervision. Many of them also receive inadequate health care and education.
What’s even worse is that some children can also die while under foster care protection, according to the same source.
Foster children also have attachment issues due to poor parenting they received in their first years. Such issues can lead to emotional disorders, including depression or physical issues, including the failure to thrive in society due to low self-esteem.
Many of them also find it hard to form attachments to anyone.
And if the child is moving very often, they will even find it hard to form any secure attachment.
Foster children with attachment problems can also be suspicious and distrustful. They might also find it hard to follow the rules. Some of them can also lack a feeling of guilt over bad behavior.
What can be done to improve a child’s foster care experience?
There are certain things that can be done to create a positive experience among children who should undergo a healing process in foster care.
They need therapy, such as speech for communication and language development, psychological support, education, and healthcare.
After all, foster care should always maximize the healing aspects that the children receive based on their needs and health conditions.
At a foster care system, a few areas that can help in creating a positive experience for a child towards the healing stage include assessment and guidance on gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and cognition. Other areas of focus should include language and speech function, emotional well-being, self-help abilities, coping skills, and social skills.
These are only some of the things that can be done in order to improve a child’s foster care experience. Definitely, these children need help and support, as they’re undergoing a difficult stage in their lives.
A team of professionals composed of caregivers, psychologists and speech pathologists, to name some, can contribute to form such a positive experience and give a foster child the healthcare he deserves.