Experiences of Foster Children
A significant percentage of foster children are not under official registration in any of the foster children institutions in the US. Early Childhood teachers have been instrumental in the identification of foster children are in their learning institutions. From the behavioral responses of children in their respective classes, they are able to determine the kind of parental attentions they receive back in their homes. The purpose of this study is to develop a mechanism of encouraging the foster children to have an identity, discuss their issues and experiences in order to profile information about their living conditions (Wulczyn, Kogan & Harden, 2003). This is with assumption and rightly so from the previous studies, that foster children do not have stable families backgrounds. The contentious issue is, therefore, how to create an environment for them to be active and express their experiences without risks of intimidation or victimization (Blome, 1997). The second issue is how to develop the teachers in the foster children’s schools in order to develop a sense of security and protection among the foster children. This is a roadmap to the achievement of academic excellence among the foster children. It also develops social and leadership skills among them to make them responsible, dependable in the present, and future.
Studies reveal the challenges that foster children undergo in their status of being foster children in either their childhood stage or their adolescent stages or both. These later develop into serious behavioral traits in their adulthood personalities. One of the challenges is a traumatic experience because of identity crisis. This is where a child struggles to identify him or herself with the real biological parents upon realization that he or she is a foster child. Loss of self-esteem among the foster children also occurs. The second challenge is physical abuse or maltreatment. These are especially manifest in the cases of children living in real families, and have not been classified as foster children, or surrendered to any of the child welfare centers in the US. Studies also reveal that foster children inevitably become victims of child labor in the hands of their foster parents. Social workers in the US play the roles of exposing the conditions under which foster children live. They have the mandate to report cases of child labor. The areas of involvement in the foster children’s issues include protection of children’s right to essential needs and the right to life. However, violations of such rights silently succeed behind the scenes, beyond the reach of the responsible institutions.
Active Involvement in Children Welfare
There are a number of care centers taking care of the foster children in different capacities in the US to create a sense of security among them. Child and family Social work in its slogan “We care about you” literally communicates the idea of care to foster children, and the desirable home for the vulnerable (Mitchell et al, 2009). The center also assists foster parents through the process of adoption of foster children in a way that articulates the welfare of both the parent and the children. The parent, for example, must be psychologically and emotionally ready to receive the foster child in his or her home before the transition begins to move the child into the new home. Similarly, the foster child has to be prepared to move into the newly found home with the foster family. Apart from the care centers or child welfare centers, there are groups of social workers in the US whose purpose is to explore the social settings of various residential areas and educational institutions to identify the plights of foster children. They find the involvement of neighbors instrumental because, in the US, neighbors are permitted to report domestic violence and maltreatment. Part of their work is to provide counseling to foster children and foster parents. In extreme situations involving traumatic experiences, the social workers report the issues to the police forces or civil courts. Data collection is essential for the foster children’s welfare program in order to study the statistical aspect of child abuses, trauma and malpractices (Whiting & Lee, 2003). The data will also possibly identify the challenges that foster parents face in their situations and consequently, possible intervention by responsible authorities. Data analysis that immediately follows the collection of facts is intended to reveal extreme cases, which require treatment with utmost priority.
Data Collection Plan
Questionnaires will be used to address areas of concern for data collection. The fundamental issue is to develop a series of questions to investigate. According to the trends revealed in the Child and Family Social Works, there are relevant questions worth asking to assist in the program.
Questions for the Study
The first question is to identify the most prevalent types of trauma and the level of exposure of foster care children to the psychological traumatic conditions. The second question is the rate of prevalence of complex trauma and interventions that have been applied to them in the past. Along with this question, which interventions were successful and why? The third question is the rates of prevalence of emotional stability, Behavioral traits, mental health and psychological tortures (Leathers, 2003). This is to discover whether there exists any form of disorder in the mental and social orientation of the foster children. The fourth question will be to distinguish between the foster children who have undergone different exposures such as complex trauma, child labor, physical assault or abuse, identity crisis and maltreatment. Upon the identification of the posttraumatic stress among the children, there is a need to identify the behavioral and emotional effects, the difference of clinical interventions between the victims exposed to complex trauma and those exposed to other consequences. The final question is whether the interventions from various stakeholders are yielding any fruits or they are futile. This will assist in the improvement of interventions and the identification of alternative ways if the prevalent methods of intervention are non-functional. The next stage of the project is to identify methods to be applied in the data collection.
Sources of Data
Data collection will take place in specific target areas for the study. One example is the early childhood study institutions in the US. It will engage early childhood teachers in identifying the foster children in their schools, their performance, experiences, behavioral traits and cases of trauma. The second data source is the foster children care centers or welfare institutions. Obviously, children in these homes undergo protection from harsh unstable home conditions. The main idea of visiting the centers is to study the numbers of admission into the centers, the number of exits, cases of trauma, situations leading to children being foster children. The information about the children will be classified into the categories of gender and ages of the foster children. The third source of data is the residential areas for the foster children. The respondents are the residents and their neighbors. This is, however, not easy because of ethical values which it may violate. It may cause mistrust and betrayal among members of common residential areas.
Data Collection Methods
This study will specifically use interviews as the optimal method for data collection. This will take place using the set of questions listed in the data collection section. It is the best method for this study because in dealing with children, the interviews will assist them to understand the questions better than questionnaire. The interviewee will possibly simplify and clarify the questions in a customized manner such that the respondents will provide appropriate answers. Observation is not applicable in this situation because it has limits of application. It may mislead the data collection process to errors resulting from misjudgment of the visual impressions. Obviously, even the identification of foster children and foster parents will not be possible, except through assumptions or visits to obvious areas like the foster children welfare centers.
From the results of analysis of the data collected, the next step will be to decide on the interpretation of the analysis into actions. One of the actions will be that before the social workers decides to transfer a child to a new home; the conditions of the new home have to be inspected to ensure it qualifies for hosting the child, apart from the child being willing to be moved into the new home. The child welfare institution, therefore, documents the details of the child before handing over to the adopting family (Greeson et al, 2005). Essentially, Children who are transitioning into foster care are taken through the process of preparation in which they are prepared psychologically. They have to take time to adapt to the new environment to minimize chances of traumatic stress. It is highly possible that the family backgrounds are different. This requires that the treatment given to the child prior to the transfer has to conform to the new home. Alternatively, the new home has to be transformed to be like the care centre. The latter option is not practically applicable in all cases.
Blome, W. W. (1997). What happens to Foster kids: Educational Experiences of a random sample of Foster Care Youth and a Matched Group on Non Foster Care Youth, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 14(1), pp45.
Greeson, J. K. P., Ake, G. S., Howard, M. L., Briggs, E. C., Ko, S. J., Pynoos, R. S., Gerrity, E. T., Kisiel, C. L., Fairbank, J. A., Layne, C. M., Steinberg, A. M. (2005). Complex Trauma and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents Placed in Foster Care: Findings from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 90(6), pp 34-37.
Leathers, S.J. (2003). Parental visiting, conflicting allegiances,emotional and behavioral problems among foster children. Family Relations, 52, 57.
Mitchell, M. B., Kuczynski, L., Tubbs, C. Y and Ross, C. (2009). We care about care: advice by children in care for children in care, foster parents and child welfare workers about the transition into foster care. Ontario: Child and Family Social Work.
Whiting, J.B. & Lee, R.E. (2003) Voices from the system: a qualitative study of foster children’s stories. Family Relations, 52, 58–59.
Wulczyn, F., Kogan, J. & Harden, B.J. (2003) Placement stability and movement trajectories. Social Service Review, 77, 112–136.