What Happens When There Are Not Enough Foster Care Families
Utah is currently suffering because of the scarcity of foster homes. Unfortunately, this is a common problem that happens in a lot of places.
In Utah, there are 2,900 children in foster care, but only 1,300 foster families statewide. The lack of suitable foster homes is made worse because many of those children have specific needs that most foster families can't accomodate, like when a newborn is born addicted to drugs.
Arizona is also suffering a foster home crisis. Families are getting out of fostering children faster than they are getting in because of frustration with the lack of support and help from the state. The lack of resources for the state fostering system means children sometimes go months without getting the counseling or support they need. Like Utah, Arizona is also having a difficult time keeping siblings together.
It is also difficult to find homes that take in large groups of siblings, especially if they are not all the same gender because the foster children need gender specific rooms. Most families can only take one to two children of the same gender at a time.
Foster children end up in proctor homes when there are not enough mainstream foster homes available. Proctor homes are more expensive for the state and they are meant for children who have more severe behavioral than most foster children. By putting mainstream foster children in proctor homes, children who actually need to be put in proctor homes need to go into more restrictive options that is even more expensive to the state.
Children also end up in overcrowded group homes or sleeping in cots in adoption agencies. Both options are bleak and stressful for the children and hardly a nurturing or loving environment. Not even the best group homes could make up for a good, stable foster family.
Unfortunately, when foster homes are not available, children do not always have a safe place to stay, or a nurturing environment. This can affect them for the rest of their lives. It can lead to undereducation, unemployment, unplanned pregnancies, and drug and alcohol addictions. 25 percent of former foster children have post traumatic stress disorder, even if they were successfully adopted. The scarcity ofsafe foster homes can even start vicious cycles where a former foster child has his or her own children taken away for foster care because of addiction problems or other reasons.
It is important to make sure foster children are as supported as possible to keep them from becoming another statistic.
Unfortunately, even when foster homes are available, they are not always a safe environment. Former foster child Claudia Felder lived in six foster homes growing up. Five of them were physically or sexually abusive. The instability in her foster homes gave her trust and abandonment issues. She suffered in school.
Her case is not unusual. Unstable foster homes and constantly shifting homes causes children to suffer in school and develop emotional and trust issues that can affect them for the rest of their lives. It is more important than ever for people who are able to become foster parents to sign up and help when they can.
There is a huge need for families able to take siblings. Having a sibling with them can provide some stability and comfort to a child, even when they are being bounced around from place to place. Unfortunately, too often, siblings have to be placed in separate homes because there are not enough spaces for them in one home.
The scarcity of safe and stable foster homes affects all of us, but especially the children who grow up in an unstable environment. Find out how you can help give foster children the support they need.