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What Happens When There Are Not Enough Foster Care Families

Updated on August 10, 2017

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.


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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 7 months ago from Maine

      Paula, I agree that we as a society needs to change to be more helpful. You are right about an ounce of prevention being a pound of cure. I absolutely believe that. Not only do these kids become become casualties of the problems in the U.S., but they are more likely to become part of the problem. By helping those in foster care, we can at least reduce drug use and lack of education (including proper sex education) that is happening today.

      However, I disagree with your idea of America breaking down. These problems have always been there. I believe there's just more awareness now. There is actually more help for those in the foster care system now than for most of American history. While foster children today certainly do not have an easy life, they at least have a better standard of living than foster children in nineteenth century America (

      Progress is slow, but I believe it is being made. It's up to us to make it go faster.

    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 7 months ago from Maine

      Dora, thank you for praying for help. You are right that a little more compassion can make a life better for an individual. The lack of resources and stability for foster children is definitely sad.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for bringing this issue to our awareness. Praying that those who can will make the effort to help. Just a little more compassion can make life better for an individual.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 8 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      While this lack is a tragedy, I have a tendency to believe "we" (as society in general) as well as organizations, agencies and charitable facilities need to step up and become involved in an effort to correct this dire situation. I don't mention the government, because in my sixty-plus decades in this country, I've clearly witnessed the government SCREW UP EVERY THING THEY TOUCH!

      Furthermore, backing up quite a distance, nothing is more true or valuable as "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." There is a massive need for repair to so many social ills throughout the nation.....drugs & alcohol, teen pregnancies, broken much is wrong, broken and ugly in this day and age, it's truly an epidemic of drastic proportions.

      These sad and unfortunate children are casualties of the overall breakdown of America.

      For the people who care and are capable to step up to the plate and take action, one good movement after another, working toward a necessary common goal, so much could be accomplished. We really need to get involved and take the bull by the horn...each of us, all of us, in our own communities & states. Excellent article. It's a wake-up. Paula

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 8 months ago from Oklahoma

      Sobering analysis.