foster care system is meant to provide care and protection to children and
adolescents taken out of their family of origin due to abuse and/or
most cases, foster care is a temporary arrangement till the children are
reunited with their parents or guardian, or an alternate permanent
suitable living arrangement is found.
placed in foster homes have to cope with numerous disruptions in their
attachment relationships, especially if frequent changes in foster homes
care placement may be a risk factor for development of physical and
emotional health problems in childhood.
Children who have
been in the U.S. foster care system have a significantly higher incidence of
mental and physical health issues, according to a University of California, Irvine
Aim of the Study
This study aims to compare the physical and mental well-being of kids who have
been in foster homes with that of kids in the general population
‘Foster care, linked to serious physical and mental health implications, may not be the ideal option for children.’
research has considered how the mental and physical well-being of children who
have spent time in foster care compares to that of children in the general
population," said study co-author Kristin Turney, UCI associate professor
of sociology. "This work makes an important contribution to the research
community by showing for the first time that foster care children are in
considerably worse health than other children. Our findings also present
serious implications for pediatricians by suggesting that foster care placement
is a risk factor for health problems in childhood."
Findings of the Study
Turney and co-author
Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of policy analysis & management
at Cornell University, assessed data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of
Children's Health. More than 900,000 kids included in the survey, of which 1.3
percent were established to have been in foster homes. The authors claim that
the studyis the first large scale research to have compared a nationally
representative sample of children in the US.
Foster care children
were matched against children who did not spend time in foster care, those who
had been adopted from foster homes and those living in various other family
arrangements, such as single-mother and economically disadvantaged households.
Employing logistic regression models, the researchers
found that children who had been in foster care were
- Seven times more probable to experience
- Six times more likely to show behavioral
- Five times more risk of suffering from anxiety
- Three times more likely to have attention deficit
disorder, hearing and visual
- Twice as likely to have learning disabilities,
asthma, obesity, developmental delays, and speech
typically a difficult-to-reach population, so having access to descriptive
statistics on their living arrangements, physical well-being and behavior
provided an excellent opportunity to help identify the health challenges they
face," Turney said. "This
study expands our understanding of the mental and physical health of these
highly vulnerable children, but we must take a closer look if we are to
understand how foster care really affects child well-being."
Possible Ways of Improving Foster Care Outcomes In
issues, though bothersome might be easier to treat in the long run. However,
the emotional and mental health issues will have far reaching effects on the
child and need more urgent addressing.
specialists treating foster care
children may need help from mental health professionals trained
in trauma-informed care to correctly diagnose and treat such children. A mental health assessment should be
performed as soon as possible within placing a child in foster care,
preferably within thirty days, with periodic follow-up.
healthcare of this population is challenging, due to the transient nature
of this system and the dispersal of
authority among parents, child welfare professionals, and the courts. Proper co-ordination is needed
among the various persons and institutions involved.
- Another major concern
that has to be dealt with includes lack
of health data, consent and confidentiality barriers, inadequate funding
and interminable waits for
community-based medical, dental, and mental health care services.
much as possible, the children should receive the type of care obtainable
in a family setting. The foster
mother should be responsive to the physical and emotional needs of the
Foster care should be ideally for as short a duration as possible
before a permanent
solution is found. Longer periods in foster care or frequent bouncing from one
foster care to another will surely affect the child adversely.
- Journal Issue: Children, Families, and Foster Care - (http://www.futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=40&articleid=133§ionid=874)