In order to understand how to fix a problem, you must first understand what causes it in the first place. One of the top reasons children in America is placed in foster care is substance use and emotional and physical abuse. Miranda Davies wrote the GALE article “The impact of parental substance abuse on the stability of family reunifications from foster care” and was quoted saying “Event history shows that children whose reasons for initial placement in foster care included caretakers with both alcohol and drug involvement were much more likely to re-enter foster care following reunification”.
It is very easy to judge a parent when they make poor choices and either begin using narcotics and alcohol excessively while they have children or continue to use them after they have had a child recently. This judgment is in good conscious, however, it cannot be allowed to impact the view of a parent forever. Of course, the accountability and responsibility have to fall onto their shoulders, and they should be making an active effort to get clean, but reunification with a parent is something that should be worked towards when a child has been placed in foster care.
Providing support for parents struggling with addiction or anger issues can help bring their child back to them and make sure they are coming back to a safe, loving home.
Reunification can be one of the best options for a child in foster care because it provides a family environment, and particularly one with their birth parents, which would be particularly beneficial because many kids who are adopted and brought into new homes with new families struggle to feel a sense of belonging.
Katie Dupree from the article “6 problems with the foster care system – and what you can do to help” also stepped in to say “Reframe how you talk about and think about foster care. Don’t assume parents who have their children taken away are forever unable to provide for their children”. Of course, frequent check-ins from social workers would be necessary at least in the beginning, just to ensure that the child is receiving the proper care and that the parent truly has developed better habits. If the parent has shown legitimate improvement, and the child is not in distress or showing signs or admitting to discomfort, then it can be counted as a successful reunification.
One of the major components of the reunification process is having the resources and people who can help families work through hardships and become stronger, bringing us to another plausible solution to the foster care crisis in the United States, which would be considering a career in social work. The article “Foster Care in America: Realities, Challenges and Solutions” by Julie Burdick states that “Social work is a helping professional and a very diverse field encompassing many different kinds of professionals who all serve people in need”. Social workers observe, advise, and evaluate foster children, their birth families, and their foster homes. They focus on the child and how they behave in their home, any mental instabilities they may be displayed, and any behavioral issues they may be showing as they adjust to each new environment. They will also work with families on how to deal with these issues when the social worker is not present, and strategies to help the child get comfortable and feel safe with the family.
Many times, children who have been placed in foster care face abandonment issues and have trouble settling down, which is another think social workers help the child through. Choosing a career in social work can be very rewarding, and it has shown to help the foster care crisis in the past, with data showing that the number of children in foster care has decreased by around 3,000. Matt Anderson’s article “Foster Care Media Toolkit” says, “Part of the reason for this sharp decline is that more social workers and other social services professionals and child welfare systems are helping to preserve and strengthen families”. This figure could continue to go down if foster care systems continue to supply an adequate amount of social workers and caseworkers to the children and families they support.
Another great solution to the issues in the foster care system is to simply adopt. For many people, adopting is a challenge, and most couples would rather have a child that is biologically related to them. However, educating adults on the benefits of adopting and bringing a child in need into their homes could drastically cut the number of kids in the system and give underprivileged adolescents a chance to start their lives in the right way, and have the same opportunities as most kids in their age groups.