Foster kids are those children that are in the legal guardianship or custody of a state, county or private adoption or foster care agency yet may be cared for by adoptive parents in their own households, under some kind of short-term or long-term arrangement with the custodial agency. Various literal studies and research have been done by different authors and groups on the actual state of such kids in the recent past and even at the present. Some actually address current issues in line with foster care.
McDonald (1997), focuses on the long-term impacts of foster care, and reviews everything about foster care. His article is part of a larger research project. This may involve all active participants in foster care including government, previous foster care studies, and importance of family among many others. In addition, the book holds a study about how the role socio-economic statuses play an important role in the development of a foster youth. The entire research from which the findings of this article are obtained is actually through empirical studies and a little one-on-one interaction with selected foster kids. He actually comes with the general opinion that foster kids are just like any other kid out there and the bodies concerned are the ones to question for all the misfortunes that befall these kids. It’s actually a great article and addresses almost all matters pertaining foster care.
The findings of Courtney (2004) are some of the most acknowledged sources on foster care obtained by thorough research on the educational side of foster care. It has an interesting education bit, suggesting that foster kids were less likely to get A’s than their peers in school. The most attractive bit is its opinion on educational, psycho-emotional, and behavioral outcomes in school. 79% of the kids changed schools, and 66% were once suspended. Therefore, it appears that youth undergoing foster care are not developing proper social bonds and are somehow acting out in social settings. Most of the stakeholders pay little no attention to what makes up a person, but are rather concerned about what the person is. The author brings out the actual picture of how constant movement of these foster kids has a negative impact on their education, symbolized by the drop-out cases. He further suggests that concerned parties must actually not only play a financial role to these kids but also be worried about their conduct and take precaution against any form of deviant behavior.
The Youth Advocacy Centre (2001) pictures what foster kids are likely to benefit from the foster care programs once they quit the system. The study was based in New York, and it seriously developed one of the best self-advocacy models in the city, mainly targeting foster kids. Such kids have been equipped with social and life preparation skills. The two studies are as follows: Casey National Alumni Study and Northwest Alumni Study. Both studies show that foster youth are experiencing mental health issues higher than their own peers. This was concluded after case studies particular children with mental health issues. It was nearly established that perhaps the mental torture that may arise from neglect had an upper hand in this. The Center conducted a survey in most special schools and health facilities to obtain these findings, but the actual reason for these findings is not yet well established.
Youth Advocacy Center (2004) article is the most comprehensive body of work on Foster care. It contains five articles integrated. The body is so much interesting and covers a wide range of matters related to foster care; its analysis and r recommendation by Behrman; Safety and Stability for Foster Children; A development perspective by Harden; Safety and Stability for Foster Children: The Policy Context by Allen and Bissel; Meeting Challenges of Contemporary Foster Care by Chipungu, and Bent-Goodley; and Family Reunification by Wulczyn. This research focuses on foster care as a whole; the issues facing foster Children from a developmental standpoint. It also tries to view foster care from the positive outlook. This is based on case studies on a few successful individuals who went through the same system. On the developmental part of it, the study portrays foster kids as the most vulnerable yet so valuable to the society. It suggests that talents should be identified and exploited in these children, as most of them normally have unutilized potential. The summary is a pledge to the foster care bodies to look into the issues addressed to ensure physical, emotional and even psychological comfort to these children.
Harris et al (2006) investigates key potential influences that shape the trajectories of resilience and vulnerability from adolescence to young adulthood, paying key attention to potential sources of variation (such as sex, social contexts, race and siblings). Increased health risk increased and access to health care increased from teens to adults among ethnic and minority groups. These findings were found to be a true reflection of what actually happens in reality. Foster kids fall among some of the highly marginalized groups in the society. It further emerges quite clearly that despite the health-thirst facing such groups, only a few have the pleasure to enjoy the benefits of these services. Major concern was on the girl child adolescent, who cannot find proper education and guidance on health-related concepts and issues.
Another research work that explores more on foster kids and fosters is by Tausig & Culhane (2011). This article shows that after a 9- month training based on skills acquisition and talent development the children’s mental health improves. Overall, the article does not paint meaningful discussion on the effects that foster youth had towards the graduate students who conducted the research. It was s study more inclined towards programmatic elements and support to the foster kids. Mentorship, in this case, appears to play a key role in molding the foster kids and in even drives them towards desired career paths and goals.
In line with the above study US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention (1997) illustrates that young people can be influenced by adults who foster them. It further indicates that even past 14 years of age, a child can still be mentored and equipped with positive outlooks. Provided a foster child is still ready and willing to be molded into a more responsible human being, age becomes irrelevant.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) studies show that a majority of youth with health and developmental issues find their way into foster care. The article reviews developmental issues important for children. Such could include abuse and neglect, placement on early foster care on early brain development, challenges in establishing attachment, and a child’s response to stress. It recommends individualization of each foster child’s issues and work, in the best interest through ensuring that the child is well-protected and is stable.
Georgia Supreme Court (2011explains that majority of youth in foster care are being prescribed psychotropic medications and repeatedly administered with the same dosage. This has aroused issues from experts in the country. National Organizations in most instances have shown keen interest in this issue and possibly taken a number of steps and precaution to combat this. They use various techniques and methods to help solve the problems.
Children’s Defense Fund (2010) highlights the same fact that fostered kids perform dismally in class work compared to their cohorts that have not been placed in the foster care system- and this is attributed to the fact that there are shifts in placements of foster youth from their research work. The Children’s Defense recommends that Elementary Secondary Education Act reauthorization include responsibilities on state and local educational organizations that mirror those that ‘Fostering Connections’ placed on child welfare agencies, so the premise fostering connections will be nullified.
Some of the challenges are special, ranging from individual to systematic. This paper is designed for the busy the welfare of children, the important role played by agencies like organizations and even governments in tackling this important issue.
Merindinger et al (2002), state that psychosocial issues have contributed to success of emancipated foster youth. Furthermore, the study is inclined towards an academic angle and majors on those issues that contribute towards making the youth successful. This is broken down into five modules but the two most significant ones are II and III. Module II contains a review of all literature relating to college access and pathways for at-risk youth using national statistic. Module III contrasts former foster youth college attendance to the general population. It’s interesting to read.
Alliance for Children (2002) summarizes the results of three focus groups that we held with children in the foster care unit during July – November 2002 .this project has two major areas of concern. To begin with, it looks into some of the issues that affect the foster children especially in their youth stage. It categorizes these issues into various classes for easy interpretation and understanding. Secondly, it tries to come up with possible solutions to the same challenges that it talks about. In its conclusion towards these issues, it also states clearly that failure to adopt some of the solutions sited may give birth to more problems instead.
There are still more literary works on issues pertaining to foster kids such as that by the NCSET. Even though this article is education-based, it mostly contains voices of former foster youth who have graduated from college. The foster care alumni college expenses were supported by the Orphanage Foundation of America and the Casey Families Scholarship, or subsidized by their operation at a young age. For example, one of the youths stated; at my first year, I managed to get a contract that I used to raise a little money to cater for me tuition fee and general upkeep. This was contrary to what I observed most of my friend’s doing- taking drugs and getting engaged into peer pressure activities. What worried me is that I tried to pay attention to what I would do with my life to make a difference for other foster kids like me to see.
The article also cites a case study of a young man who successfully went through foster care. He recounts his personal struggles with foster care system and temptations to run away from it. He talks about his addiction hard medicine and inadequate funds for upkeep. Eventually he explains how he used football to escape from the system. This is a study conducted from the school of life and experience. In the end he emerged as a successful footballer and also became a writer of journals and magazines.
Diffenbaugh (2001) in her novel examines a troubled foster child that used the language of the flowers to seek love and eventuallyfound love from flowers. Love from the flowers in this case is symbolic. Diffenbaugh explores the plight of foster kids through her remarkable work of art and vividly describes the undertakings that the young girl goes through, including psychological and physical torture. It’s not all lost, however, since the novel ends at that point where the young girl manages to find the company she had longed to find, all her life.
The few reviewed sources have much to touch on foster kids experiences and what it takes to become one. Some become successful in life but others are abused and may also fall into the trap of drug abuse and crime. Educational challenges also emerge as one of the major drawbacks to the foster kids. As if not enough, emotional and psychological discomfort is some of the evident themes that run through these texts.
In the event that one may actually want to know more about fosters and foster kids, a proper study would have to be carried out over the same.
Proposal Draft for a Study on Foster Kids
Background Information on Foster Kids and Experiences
Foster children do not have any stable place to call home. Their destiny lies in the hands of those to whom responsibility has been delegated to take care of them. Most frequently, these care-takers are not permanent in nature. These kids, more often than not are easily identified by their teachers, based on how they perform or conduct themselves in the classes. This study aims at coming up with ideal tools and techniques to motivate and strengthen foster kids. In addition, it seeks to develop techniques that would aid in creating forums with such kids to share out their experiences and challenges.
Research has it that foster kids face a number of challenges, be it psychological, economic, and academic or any other type of blockages in their day-to-day lives. A majority of these challenges crop in at their adolescent stages in life. Some of them lack basic needs or if available, it’s never sufficient. The adolescent girl child is the worst hit at this stage. They may lack health advice on the changes that take place as they grow up, and even how to tackle these issues. Psychological torture in the form of loneliness and homelessness may also form a larger portion of their sad experiences. This may come because they are not raised up by people they can have parental link with. Their bonds are quickly renewed with time and never fall in the hands of the same care takers once it is broken. Academic challenges may come in the form of poor performance in examinations, but this has a direct connection to psychological challenges that these children undergo.
Among other challenges, foster kids are prone to physical torture. More often they are overworked and not well taken care of in terms of food. They have to cope with what the environment around them has to offer. They do not dictate their destiny; such decisions are left in the hand of those that are assigned to look after them. A majority never achieve their goals because they are automatically blocked out of prestigious places such as the universities and colleges. The study aims at familiarizing with these challenges and trying to adopt possible solutions to help the foster kids have a future.
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” accurately 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 children and parents. 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 mistreatment.
Data collection plan
This study will collect data related to foster kids and mostly obtain factual information that is relevant to the cases under study. Relevant inquiry will be done through the main parties involved in foster care and to some extent the foster children themselves.
Questions for the Study
The introductory question is to actually obtain facts that lead to foster care. This could generate different and in most cases conflicting ideas from the source of data, for example, to any of the foster kids, one may ask, “What are some of the circumstances that led you into being here?” This would automatically lead to a clear interrogation on some of the psychological issues that arise from foster care, both to the care takers and to the foster kids themselves. The question would expand and touch on other challenges in general, facing the foster kids, their teachers and even the foster parents. Questions pertaining to challenges would most preferably be directed towards almost all the parties involved in foster care. For example to target the teachers, a relevant question would be “Now that it may appear that foster kids do not perform as to the expectation of your standards, do you have any special measure put in place to ensure this matter is addressed?” More questions on measures, if any, that have been put in place to combat these challenges would complement this part. Measures that have born fruits would be known and those that haven’t would at the same time be identified.
The other possible question would be aimed at motivating and mentoring some of the foster kids. This would take the form of encouragement as well as challenge to them. To the foster kid, you may ask, “Now that there are a few kids just like you who have emerged successful through the program, what is your say about it? Will you do like them or even better, despite the similar challenges you face?” Such a question would not be readily answered by the kid but it would actually generate ideas running in the mind of the kid. More often than not, the kid would get motivated and do what he or she is best at to his or her perfection.
2.1.2. Sources of Data
Data for this study will be obtained from the actual questions that prevail among the issues that are in question in this work. Such information would be generated from the environment from which the foster kids come. From the educational context, teachers and the foster kids themselves would serve as tools enough for data collection. Moreover, academic records such as disciplinary records, report forms and even school attendance records would be used in this case. This would give out the clear picture on how foster kids fare on in school, as compared to their other colleagues, not in the system. This comparison would be done by sampling the other student’s records to make judgment on any differences noted.
The residential areas would as well act as reliable data sources for this particular study. The neighborhood and general outlook of the residential could be a basis to determine whether there is any sense of comfort or not. The kind of tasks that the kids engage in would be taken into account, diet details and general sanitation around the areas of residence. Interrogations with the neighbors and the residents themselves would generate reliable information.
2.2 Data Collection Techniques
This study will mainly major on interviews with the involved parties to establish facts and obtain answers to all the questions of interest. This method is contextual to the study since the best way to generate information from young people is mainly through one-on-one questioning. In that case the interviewee will have to be that individual that is capable of understanding the mental reasoning and be able to focus and read facial information and gestures. Observation as another technique would not be amiss, but only on relevant and confirmed area of study
Actions to be taken pertaining to analysis and interpretation of the data obtained would come at the discussion point. The basic fundamental action would be that there needs to be proper communication between the foster kids and the foster parents. In the event that a foster kid is likely to be shifted from one home to the next, he/she needs to be alerted in time to avoid mental torture. At the same time, the discussion would also engage into making recommendations to the teachers of these foster kids to pay extra attention and to an extent go miles ahead to act as their parents. This would be done by regularly assessing their academic records and advising where necessary. Such mentoring activities would help enable the foster kids undergo fair and recommended education.
Special attention to kids with special needs would also be important to recommend in that this study. At the residential, it’s important to note that some kids would require special attention and that not all of them are capable of surviving under the same conditions.
Foster kids, just like any of us, are human. It only happens that not everyone is brought up in the same environment. Foster kids are not grown-ups thus they cannot cater fully for their own needs and wants. The major stakeholders involved – teachers, the government, foster parents, organizations and even the general public- must act according the basic human rights that any of them wouldn’t wish to be taken from them. Have you discovered that the most successful people in the world more often than not have parental problems are they grow up? Most people would be scared to answer that question but I believe we all have the answer with us.
We live in a world of inventions and innovations. Every day, a new technological device is developed. What we do not take into account is that despite academic lines of thought, proper talent development and mentorship programs to the young people would serve as a better tool in molding the future of these young bright kids. Leadership training, among other life skills would help create a better world for the foster kids. In addition, everyone should know that there are foster kids around them. Just like we do contribute towards the needy, these foster kids are not an exception. There is a need to come up with a special charity program that would help generate funds to support the foster kids with their education, amongst other needs. This can be done through electronic funds transfer services and a common pool established for the reception and distribution of this aid to the various centers.
Other than aiming at offering help to the foster kids, there are a number of foster kids that have emerged successful and others have failed to reach desired life destinations. It would be crucial to be able to recognize publicly, those that are successful in life, and if possible perform any form of motivation and reward to acknowledge their efforts. The government is a major body in determining the fate of foster kids. Through all the stakeholders involved, there should be laws set pertaining to these kids. Other than the basic rights of persons and persons with special needs, there should be another category created to directly focus on foster children.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2000) Courtney T.B (2004). Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Conditions of Youth Preparing to Leave State Care. Chain Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, pp 60-67
Diffenbaugh V.J. (1998). The Language of Flowers. Mauritania. Diffenbaugh Publishers Georgia Supreme Court (2011)
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.
Harris K.M. et al (2006). The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescence Health. London. Kathleen Press
McDonald T.S. (1997). What We Know about Effects of Foster Care. London: CWLA Press
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.
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (2008)
Taussig L.W & Culhane B.H (2011). Impact of Mentoring Group Program on Mental Health Outcomes for Maltreated Children in Foster. Chicago. American Medical Association
The Youth Advocacy Centre. (2001) US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Prevention (1997)