Welcome to the sixteenth edition! This newsletter is published by Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). FAFS’ mission is to provide support, training and advocacy to meet the special needs of foster, adoptive and kinship families, who provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for children in foster care. We hope that you will find this information to be both interesting and informative. To learn more about FAFS, please visit www.fafsonline.org. Have questions or comments? Contact Us
In a report by the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a branch of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it was found that 7 to 8 percent of the U.S. population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Typically, when thinking about those suffering from PTSD, many think of war veterans as the demographic hit hardest by this mental health condition. However, a study by Casey Family Programs, the University of Michigan and the Harvard Medical School found that former foster children are nearly twice as likely to experience PTSD as veterans.
This study reported that 1 out of every 4 children who spent time in foster care dealt with PTSD at some point during the previous 12 months. Beyond PTSD, more than half experienced at least one mental health condition, such as social phobia or depression. In a report on the study, Ronald Kessler, a co-author of the project and a professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard, said, “…foster children’s greater likelihood of mental health risk is primarily based upon the experiences, such as neglect and abuse, that children face before entering the foster system.”
For teens across the country, their eighteenth birthday is a major milestone – as these children reach the age of majority, they find that suddenly they can call themselves adults. As discussed in the previous article, “Help Needed For Youth Aging Out Of Foster Care In America,” for 23,000 US teens aging out of foster care each year, crossing the threshold into adulthood often comes with challenges and responsibilities. These adults-by-law are still vulnerable youth who have a lot of learning to do, but without the support structures that other youth outside of the child welfare system have, it can become easy for them to lose their way.
Increasingly, states are moving to raise the age limit for children in foster care in order to help them maintain the systems of support they need to succeed after they turn eighteen. As child welfare systems across the country continually update their ideas and infrastructure to provide positive outcomes, there is a debate over how money should be invested. How much, exactly, does it affect foster care costs when a child is not adopted?
The number of children in foster care is often talked about, but the cost of keeping them there is less discussed. As the number of parents addicted to opiates continues to rise, so does the number of children and youth entering foster care. The finances of foster care in the opioid age are a concern across the nation.
Ohio, in particular, is having a crisis. The Times Gazette reports that, according to Highland County Job and Family Services Director Katie Adams, there were 101 children in foster care at an annual cost of $1.9 million for her county alone.
States across the nation continue to focus on increasing the number of foster children placed with relatives as more studies are finding there to be benefits of kinship care over traditional foster care. A 2015 study by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) found that 30% of the total population of children in care consisted of children being raised by a family member or close family friend. While the long-term benefits of kinship care are well documented, the time following the child’s placement in the care of relatives can be turbulent as both adults and children face a complex challenge: the medical issues of children in kinship care. These troubles can result in undiagnosed physical disabilities and developmental delays that may be harmful to the child’s schooling and day-to-day life.
Medical Issues of Children in Kinship Care
Most kinship cases happen unexpectedly, leaving caregivers with a short amount of time to take in all of the information covered during the licensing process. Even with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act (FCA) of 2008 easing the requirements for kinship caregivers, it can be a challenge for them to remember all of the intricacies of the policies.
Foster care is not something that just happens in the United States. It is a global issue and each country handles the caring of children in need in different ways. We spoke with Collie Crisman, a Foster and Adoptive Family Services staff member, who grew up in the UK and has seen how the foster care system works on two continents.
1. How is the foster care system (including adoption) different in the UK compared to NJ?
One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed between the UK and the US adoptive processes is the presence of private adoption agencies in the US. In the UK, regardless of whether a child is removed by the state, or voluntarily placed for planned adoption at birth, the case will always be handled by either a local agency or a “Voluntary Adoption Agency” (a charity-run, independent agency that specializes in adoption and post-adoptive support).