Report: Foster Children Need Better Medical Care in the U.S.

A large group of children in need of medical attention in the United States aren’t getting it, according to a newly released study. The report, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), indicated that foster children who experience emotional and physical trauma are not being treated for it.

medical care and foster children
According to the report, anywhere between 30 to 80 percent of children come into foster care with at least one physical health issue, while up to 80 percent enter with a significant mental health need. The report also said that 46 percent to 60 percent of children younger than six years of age have a developmental disability that qualifies them for services.

These physical health issues range from the common, such as asthma, to the severe, such as cerebral palsy. Continue reading

Making Safe Connections: Foster Teens and Social Media

Social media is just about everywhere. It’s in most ads, the products you buy, your TV screen, your computer – it’s even in your pocket. For those looking to link up with friends, relatives and peers, this is fantastic news. Connections are made easier than ever and long distance bonds aren’t as fragile as they were in the past. But for foster parents, who are first and foremost in charge of protecting their children from harm and providing for their basic needs, social media can present a difficult challenge.

Foster teens and social media.

On the one hand we can see that anonymity protects foster children from harm and that social media compromises anonymity. On the other, we understand that socializing is a basic need and that social media has become an integral part of how children and teens socialize. So how’s a foster parent to walk this fine line? With delicate, well-informed steps and with the child’s safety always in mind.

Foster Teens and Social Media: What Are the Upsides?

Socializing is indeed a basic need, and social media is a powerful tool that addresses this need. It can help a foster youth maintain connections to the friends and role models she makes as she moves through placements or returns to her biological parents’ care. It can lessen the pain of separation from siblings who may have been placed elsewhere.

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Lawsuit Alleges Failure of New York City Child Welfare System

The New York City child welfare system, which has been tasked with placing abused and neglected children in safe homes, is accused in a lawsuit of failing the very people it’s supposed to protect.

child welfare system

New York City’s Public Advocate, Leticia James and private lawyers are filing a class-action complaint against the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), an agency that represents most of the children in foster care in the city, alleging the organization is operating below standards.

The lawsuit names 10 children who have been in foster care for most or all of their lives as plaintiffs. Many report neglect, physical and sexual abuse while in care and are claiming these abuses have contributed to illnesses like depression and Bipolar Disorder.

New York has reduced the number of children in care from 45,000 in the 1990s to 11,000 today, but according to the lawsuit, New York City’s foster care system has one of the worst records of mistreatment of children in care. Continue reading

What is a Bonding Assessment?

A bonding assessment is a study that determines how a foster child has bonded with his foster or birth parents. It hinges upon a central question: if the child was removed from the current placement situation, would his overall well being be improved, hindered or unlikely to change at all?

Bonding Assessment
The answer to this question is determined by a child psychologist. During the bonding assessment, she studies the child’s behavior as well as his interaction with the foster or biological parent and other members of the household. While the psychologist may also interview members of the family together or in subgroups, she is most interested in the child’s behavior.

Each child psychologist may handle a bonding assessment differently, but there are many key components of a child-parent relationship that most evaluators across the nation tend to look for. These include but are not limited to:

  • The frequency and nature of touching between a parent and child
  • Comfort and guidance seeking behavior by the child
  • The parent’s ability to respond effectively to the child’s needs
  • Whether the child seems upset if separation occurs during the session

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North Carolina Law Looks To Increase Foster Parent Rights

Laws dictating the rights of foster parents vary state to state, with most being more restrictive than not in order to help protect children from harm. However, North Carolina is currently discussing a bill that would greatly enhance foster parent rights, granting them abilities to make more decisions for the children in their care.

Foster Parent Rights
North Carolina is considering a bill that would drastically alter state laws by granting rights to foster parents that currently don’t exist in many states, including New Jersey.

The proposed law, dubbed the Foster Care Family Act, would create a “reasonable and prudent standard” that would allow foster parents the right to give permission to children in care to take part in extracurricular and social activities without notifying North Carolina’s Department of Social Services. Continue reading

Study: Foster Care Health Issues Continue Into Adulthood

A recently released national study shows that former foster youth appear to have a higher risk of chronic health conditions above what is generally attributed to those in economic poverty. With a raised awareness of these foster care health issues, authors of the report hope policymakers will tailor programs to help these at-risk youth avoid chronic medical problems. For foster parents, acting now will likely help reduce future health problems in their foster children.

foster care health issues
Foster care health issues are not a new topic. Coming from higher rates of poverty and experiencing abuse and neglect exacts a toll on the physical and mental well-being of foster children, various studies have shown. However, a new report has revealed that the damage doesn’t stop there.

Those kids who were raised in the foster care system will often carry their health issues with them into adulthood, more so than children who are not in foster care.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated cardiovascular health of three groups of young adults: former foster care adults and non-foster care adults who came from both financially stable and financially unstable backgrounds. Continue reading