foster children face, especially when they become emancipated and begin to live life on their own. It has often been suggested that many more African-American children are in foster care than are children of other races. In order to understand whether or not this is accurate, a thorough review of available literature on the topic is necessary. Literature on this topic will include statistics, gender differences, and cultural diversity.
The problem statement concerns the disproportionate number of African-American children who are represented in the child welfare system, and who are not adequately prepared to leave foster care through emancipation. The logical assumption would be that something is lacking in the foster care environment that causes great difficulty for children once they begin to live on their own. It is the intent of the literature review to show whether or not is accurate, and what may be lacking in the foster care environment.
The possibility remains that it may not be the fault of the foster care environment, but rather may be the fact of other extenuating circumstances that have occurred in the child's life before they were placed in a foster home. More likely, it is not one or the other, but all of the factors together that cause problems for these children later in life. All of these suggestions must be explored, in the context of the literature review, in order to begin to come to terms with the immenseness of this problem in society.
They must be explored for another reason is well; unless they are explored and examined, no good suggestions will be implemented to help the children that are already in foster care, and the children who at some point in the future may find themselves in foster care due to adversity and poor circumstances in their lives.
Foster Care and Emancipation
The idea of foster care has been in this country for years, but recently it has gained a great deal of media attention. This is largely because of government organizations that have been accused of misplacing children under their care, failing to remove children from households that present a dangerous environment, and generally not being as concerned with the welfare of children as they originally claimed to be.
While many foster children grow up and go on to make their way in the world, there are also many that do not. Some of this can be attributed to the natural problems that a child experiences by being placed in foster care, but much of the difficulty a person has in adjusting to the outside world, and their own independence, after being in foster care can be related back to the way they were treated during their time in the care of a foster family.
In order to understand the problems that children experience in foster care, and the problems many experience later on in adult life, a thorough review of literature on the subject is necessary. Not only are statistics such as gender and cultural differences important, but it is necessary to gain an overall picture of the types of children who find themselves in the care of a foster parent.
The age and gender of a child when they arrive in a foster care environment is important, and should be examined. Also important, however, are the cultural differences of both the children, and the foster parent who take them in. For example, the literature analyzed in this paper is expected to show that a higher percentage of African-American children end up in the child welfare system, and also in the care of foster parents.
The reasons why this is so will need to be fully understood in order to make suggestions as to how to help reduce the number of African-American children in foster care, and also how to help any children to find themselves in a foster care environment learn to be independent citizens. In order to work on these problems, it will be necessary to examine not just the foster care environment, but the ramifications that foster children experience later in life.
It has been suggested that many children who become emancipated are not really ready to survive on their own, and therefore the reasons behind this must be discovered. It is a hope that a thorough review of the literature, and thus an understanding of all of the aspects of foster care and emancipation, will bring about suggestions that will help to solve the problem of why many emancipated foster children struggle and have difficulties in life.
Suggestions of this nature will be invaluable to the children who are in foster care now, and those caseworkers and social workers who are assigned to help them to get through a difficult time in their life. The suggestions will also be helpful to children who will end up in foster care in the future, the caseworkers who will deal with them, and the people who graciously take these children into their homes and act in the role of foster parent.
One concern is that many foster parents don't really understand what they are getting themselves into when they take a foster child into their home. Being a foster parent is not the same as being apparent to one's own child. Often, foster children have special needs, or have been through terrible circumstances, that affect them very deeply. Foster parents must be very empathetic and loving to these children, but they also must understand the children's basic need for discipline and structure in their lives.
Very likely, empathy, love, discipline, and structure were things that many of these foster children were not acquainted with when they lived with their natural parents. If there had not been significant problems in their original home, they would not have come into foster care. Examples of these problems could be anything from financial difficulties to abuse or neglect. Also, some children come into foster care because their parents are deceased. Children of deceased parents may have difficulties that children of abusive or neglectful parents do not. All foster children are different from one another, and it is the foster parents' responsibility to find what works for the care and nurturing of each individual child.
Before the literature review, it is important to understand the true problem and purpose of this examination. Most people do not realize how many children in this country are living in foster families. Many of those people also do not realize that a high number of these children appear to be African-American, and statistics will show that many of these children do not do well in society upon emancipation. The purpose of this literature review, and the goal behind the examination of it, is to determine why this is the case and find reasonable and workable suggestions that can be used to make foster care, and the subsequent emancipation of foster children, better not only for those children but for society as a whole.
Children are placed in foster care because their home environment is no longer safe for them. Often this is due to abuse or neglect, but can be for other reasons as well. Many children who enter foster care are young, but the percentage of children between 13 and 18 who are entering foster care for the first time is growing. Transferring the children from a bad environment to one that is stable, nurturing, and non-abusive has been associated with better development for these children in the future, as well as better ability to survive on their own and live independently once they become emancipated (O'Hara, 1998).
One of the main concerns about foster care is the length of time that some children spend in it. Foster care is not only four children who have been permanently taken from their families, but is also sometimes for children who are required to be away from their families for a period of time, but will be reunited with their families at a later date. This is sometimes used in cases where one parent has been abusive and needs to receive anger management and parenting classes, for example. Children are removed from their families for other reasons, of course, but parental neglect or mistreatment are the most common. In a report from the United States general accounting office, concern was expressed that during the mid-1990s many children were in foster care much longer than they needed to be, even though repeated attempts were being made to reunite these children with their families (Homes, 2002).
The Adoption and Safe Families Act, enacted by Congress in 1997, was designed primarily to help children who were in foster care either be reunited with their families, or placed for adoption. The goal of this was to keep the more than 800,000 children in foster care in the United States from languishing in a foster home, instead of belonging to a family that the child believed to be permanent. One concern was that…