When it comes to children being removed from the home there are always going to be pros and cons. It’s never anyone’s first choice but sometimes it’s necessary for the continued well-being of the children involved. There are two sides to every coin.
Things that foster care does right!
There have been several huge leaps in the past 10 years as far as child placement goes. Social workers have discovered that placement is more successful when several factors are taken into consideration. One of the most important of these is an attempt to keep siblings together. This isn’t always possible but people are finding that it provides a much more stable environment thus making the adjustment process far easier for the child involved.
Another positive within the foster care system is the environmental change. Typically when a child is removed from a situation it’s due to some pretty chaotic living conditions on the home front. Things aren’t going well and probably have not been going well for a long time. Foster homes go through intensive qualification processes. In those processes, it is determined that the home involved is a stable place that is safe for children. This gives their families the time and space they might need to get their lives back in order and create an appropriate environment. So this is a dual positive. On one side, it gives the children a safe place to temporarily go. And on the other side, it gives their families the chance to get things together not only for themselves but for the kiddos involved.
There are also places where foster care could improve.
The system has really stepped things up in the last decade but the problem is that they haven’t increased hiring. They are asking the same people, or a similar number of people, to take on a much larger and far more complex workload. They spend countless hours working to keep up with home visits, court appearances, home study evaluations and more. On top of that, when they cannot find placements they are often being asked to spend the night in the office with kids. They are overwhelmed and exhausted. Our social workers need a pay raise and added positions.
Another concern is the fact that foster children are covered medically under Medicaid. This is provided to every foster child. The majority of foster children need medical and psychological care. Each year fewer and fewer providers want to take Medicaid. That limits the access to care for these children. You often end up with a primary care physician assigned who is not board certified in pediatrics. Our kids deserve top notch care. Something must be done to recruit and reimburse doctors at the necessary rates to receive quality care.
There is no perfect answer. There is no solution to end all solutions. All systems can do for improvement. The one we have in place currently is meeting our needs and some of the brightest and best people are working within that system to be constantly improving. The best way to change anything is to get involved and be the change.
Blake Johnson is a 29-year-old adoptee living in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. His journey through the various struggles associated with adoption give him a unique perspective that he hopes can be a small measure of help to anyone traveling the same path.