Foster care is a network of homes and agencies that provide residential care for young children who have been removed from their natural families due to various reasons. Foster care is usually a system where a young individual is placed in a foster family, typically a residential facility, orphanage, or other independent housing unit, with a relative approved by the state for such placement. The placement of this child is usually arranged through a social service agency or the government. Most foster families have their own children of origin who are still living with them, or have relatives who are willing to care for the young child. A foster family essentially acts as a child’s temporary home while the young person is waiting for his/her “other family” to find him/her a permanent home.
Federal Programs for Foster Children
In recent years, foster care systems have developed to meet the varying needs of these children. The main goal of these systems is to ensure that children remain in safe, loving environments while they are awaiting adoption or permanence of adoption. Some of these foster care systems also provide services to families whose children have experienced child abuse. Also some foster homes are staffed with social workers who can provide counseling and guidance to any families considering placing a child in one of their homes.
Foster care is overseen and regulated by a federal law called The permanent child welfare act (PCWA). This federal law requires all foster parents to meet educational and financial requirements before they can receive children for adoption. Additionally, foster parents must inform the department about their intent to place a child in any of their homes, except those that are pre-existing group homes that are licensed through DHHS. These group homes are considered special care facilities and are not subject to the federal laws regulating other child welfare areas.
There are many different types of foster care homes that fall into either non-profit or private organization status. In most cases, foster parents are paid a nominal fee for their services and are required to follow specific rules and regulations established by the federal government and the states. As long as the children stay in safe environments, state and local laws are rarely broken. Many states have placed requirements on child safety flyers that are distributed to homes in their area. These flyers help foster parents and kinship agencies keep abreast of new requirements that may be put into place in order to keep children safe in their homes.
There has been an increase in substantiated abuse or neglect in the homes of families located in either group or private homes. There have also been an increase in substantiated instances of physical or sexual abuse in these homes. This new law requires all licensed foster care parents to submit annual reports detailing all substantiated child abuse or neglect that occurs in their home during a given year. These reports are then provided to the state and national organizations overseeing care. The goal is to ensure that all foster care families take reasonable steps to prevent and stop any type of abuse or neglect from occurring.
For foster care families and their families, this new federal law can mean a number of different things. In one instance, the mandated reporting requirement could allow a foster parent to be held responsible if his or her child was abused or neglected in a home. This could make the foster parent more accountable to the child welfare system and help the agency enforce regulations that have been put into place to protect children in these homes.
Other ways that the new federal law could benefit foster youth and families include funding for adequate care, preventing long term abuse, and promoting healthy relationships among foster youth. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently offering a grant program called the Fostering Opportunity Grant to foster care systems around the country. The funds for this program come from a grant known as the Federal Connectivity Scholarship Program. Applicants who would like to receive money through this program must first undergo training and counseling in areas related to issues that foster youth face, such as neglect and abuse. In turn, the aspiring foster youth become better able to advocate for themselves and their rights within the foster care systems around them.
Another way the new grant money and federal programs may benefit foster youth and families in need is by preventing long-term neglect and abuse. Over a period of time, foster children may experience emotional, physical, and or sexual abuse. According to the DCFS, an organization that works to benefit children and families in need, long-term abuse can be detrimental to developing a healthy and lasting relationship with foster parents and other care givers. These relationships can often help foster children to move forward and develop positive relationships with their extended family, as well as with society in general. Programs like this one aim to help foster children develop healthy and meaningful relationships in their lives while at the same time preventing further abuse or neglect from occurring.