Foster Care and Reunification Essay
Foster care refers to temporary care granted by the government to children who cannot live with their families. While in out-of-home care, children may stay with their foster families, their relatives or in group facilities (The Annie E. Casey Foundation n.p.). The period taken by children in foster care is dictated by their family situation and the options available for their communities. The essay will focus on the reasons why children come into care and how their parents can get them back eventually.The reasons for putting children in foster care may vary widely depending on the circumstances of the family and the unique needs of some children. While some children may be admitted into foster care because of neglect, sexual abuse, and physical abuse, others may join for other reasons like mental injury, addiction, and incarceration (The Annie E. Casey Foundation n.p.). Neglect may come in many forms like withholding of care required to meet the basic needs of a child such as a shelter, food, education, medical needs, and hygiene.
Another reason is physical and sexual abuse. Ideally, physical abuse may include a parent intentionally harming or threatening to harm a child. While physical abuse is commonly viewed as the act of hitting a child, it may also take other forms like keeping a child in an environment that is considered unsafe (The Annie E. Casey Foundation n.p.) Besides, sexual abuse may refer to exposing a child to sexual materials like pornographic materials and videos, sexual behaviors and fondling or involving in direct or indirect sexual acts with a child.
Some children may have mental injuries which may make their parents unable to care for them. Mental injuries typically harm a child emotional stability and psychological capacity and may cause them to develop impaired functioning. Also, some parents who struggle with addiction issues like alcohol or drugs may not be able to care for their children (Resnick n.p.). Addicted parents may indulge in actions which may lead to increased risk of neglect, harm or child abuse. When the risk is high, children may be placed into foster care to allow such parents to try and manage their addiction issues.
The final reason is incarceration. Children may join foster care when their parents are imprisoned, and there are no alternative caregivers available to take care of them. Notably, while their children are in foster care, parents should participate in their case plans to make their homes safe and secure for their return (Resnick n.p.). Other things parents can do to help their children return home include visiting regularly and working with other teams like the caseworkers, lawyers and foster parents to speed up the return.
There are many benefits of visiting a child while in foster care. Most importantly, it enables parents to preserve and strengthen bonds with their children while they are separated. Parents can also soothe children’s worries and fears by visiting and demonstrating that they care for them (Child Welfare Information Gateway n.p.). However, visits may be awkward, especially when they take place in places that are not familiar or comfortable. To handle such situations, parents should try to stay positive, bring to their children what to do like books to read, and games to play and use the visiting time to bond with their children.
The parent’s experience with the foster care system may include many different individuals like caseworkers, child’s foster parents, parents’ lawyers, and parents’ partners. Parents should work well with each of these groups to improve the chances of bringing their children home (Child Welfare Information Gateway n.p.). Specifically, parents may work closely with their caseworkers by asking questions concerning the case plan and the services required. Foster parents are responsible for taking care of the child when they are in care. Parents should be close to the foster parents to make visiting easier and to help them in staying in touch with their children. Parents may also hire lawyers to represent them in courts. Finally, parents should connect with parent partners who were once having their children in foster care to act as peer mentors.Children may find themselves into out-of-home care due to parental neglect, addiction, sexual and physical abuse, mental illness and parental incarceration. However foster care is not forever. Therefore, parents should prepare themselves to reunite with their children by visiting regularly and working closely with the stakeholders involved.