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Foster Care Peculiarities In The United States

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Efforts at child protection are structured by the policy regimes in which they are enmeshed (Edwards, 2016). According to Nesmith, Patton, Christophersen, & Smart (2017), the goal of the US foster care system is to provide safe, stable, nurturing home environments for children who cannot safely live with their family of origin. Child welfare wanted to come up with an achievement that would help the foster system. This provoked the idea of having a child go from foster care to adoption and guardianship. Rolock, Perez, White, & Fong (2018) states a significant challenge of the twenty-first century child welfare system is how to ensure the well being of children currently living with adoptive parents or guardians. Finances through the system was what caused a few issues. Efforts to reform child welfare financing have emerged in recent years according to Russell (2015). However, the standard rates for foster parents is still in question. There is currently no federal minimum rate nor standard methodology to establish adequate rates to support foster parents to meet these children’s needs (Ahn, DePanfilis, Frick, & Barth, (2017). Even though things are still getting figured out throughout the child welfare, one thing is for sure and that is foster care is a need in the Untied States.

Foster Care

The foster care system is considered a tool used when children must be separated from their parents or current guardian and put in an alternative caregiver’s hands. This helps minimize abuse and neglect to the children from their original guardian. There is a child protection policy that takes place when this occurs, and it is to ensure children and the families involved receive the services and support they need. Having control on how a parent a handle threatening child, punishment, and manipulating situations is key to child protection. States use child welfare agencies to control parenting because according to Edwards (2016) they do so by establishing a system for the surveillance of child maltreatment. This is considered a process that they use and if violations are made, the case can be investigated but it would stay classified so that everything can be handled in the best way for both the parents and children involved. Child welfare agencies rely on a diffuse surveillance network of voluntary observers and various categories of professionals (Edwards, 2016). If a caseworker finds the child or children involved in a danger, the caseworker had the power to make the call to have the child or children removed from their guardian and into state’s custody. The foster care system then will go and find a temporary home for the children involved. Edwards (2016) states that normally it would be with extended family. A non-relative foster home, a group home, or a more restrictive institutional setting such as a residential treatment center. The family or juvenile court involved with the case is the one to decide whether the child will permanently be separated from the guardian they were originally taken from, or if they will eventually be reunited under their guardianship again.

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Evening though children are removed and put into foster care, the state still allows, in most cases, family visits. Nesmith, Patton, Christophersen, & Smart (2017) mentions that it is the primary venue to sustain the parent-child bond, assess parenting skills and progress towards family reunification. By providing consistent visits, it can also help with adjustment for both parent and child. It can motivate the parent to want to change their ways to prove to the parent to want to change their ways to prove to the state they are ready to take their child back in their care. It also can help the child when it comes to their behavior while in foster care. According to Nesmith et al. (2017), their research from Cantos et al. (1997); McWey et al. (2010) noted that children exhibit fewer internalizing behaviors such as withdrawal, somatic complaints, anxiety or depression, and fewer externalizing behaviors such as delinquency or aggression. Even though this works for some families, not every case ends in requirement. Some children leave foster care by adoption or guardianship. Rolock, Perez, White, & Fong (2018) states when children are adopted, parental rights are terminated whereas in cases of guardianship, parental rights may or may not be terminated. Children involved in the child welfare system were important to the state to ensure safety when getting adopted. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) was designed to prioritize legal permanence for foster children while also ensuring their safety. (Rolock et al., 2018).

When a child is placed into the state’s custody, it is for their safety and to make sure all their needs are provided. Foster care homes are an importance as well when it comes to the children entering the child welfare system. Foster parents spend a lot of their hard-working money to support the foster child or children. According to Ahn, DePanfilis, Frick, & Barth (2018) in 2007, a study called MARC was created to establish foster care minimum adequate rates for children. This study was based off the child’s age and where they lived in the United States. When the MARC study was updated in 2016, with the cost of living changes, the changes in the gaps between foster care and the MARC, and the updating of the states and their increased reinburement rates it had different results. The results stated that all but four states provided lower foster care reimbursement rates than the adequate costs in 2016 (Ahn et al., 2018). This is an issue because it can hold back many fostering opportunities because the foster rates should be increased to assist the children’s needs. According to Ahn et al. (2018), the foster care MARC excludes expenses related to the cost of travel to administrative and judicial reviews and health care appointments. In order to fix this situation there needs to be an increase in foster care reimbursement, a setting of minimum foster care rates needs to be enforced, there needs to be strengthening in the foster care funding’s, and it can be fixed by setting the state level policies to adopt a child or children in foster care to be covered in cost by MARC and also the caring costs for the children. Adequate foster care reimbursement rates can lower financial burdens on foster parents (Ahn et al., 2018).

Critics argue that because foster care can be subsidized but preventing and reunification programs cannot, practice tends to rely more on foster care (Russell, 2015). Funding seem to be an issue when it comes to a family making the decision to take in, or even adopt a foster child. According to Rolock, Perez, White, & Fong (2018), ASFA occurred at a time when the number of children in foster care was on the rise. A few children had the Title IV-E assistance which is when the federal payments for foster care and adoption is taken is helped out by the Social Security Act (SSA). Social Security Act helps funds a lot of the foster care costs. However, Rolock et al. (2018) states a significant number of children in the foster care was without Title IV-E assistance because they did not meet the Title IV-E eligibility criterion. Due to these situations, the foster care tries to focus on reunification with the original guardian or parent. Nesmith, Patton, Christophersen, & Smart (2017) states “family reunification is the permanency goal for the majority of children in foster care” (p.246). The state isn’t trying to separate families to destroy them, they try to focus on the safety of the children and getting the parents back on track so they can become stable to take back the responsibilities. Consistent and frequent visiting correlates with stronger parent-child attachment, which, in turn, is related to better adjustment (Nesmith et al., 2017). Foster care is a tool that was created to help with child protection. Child protection is the dominant means through which states seek to control the behavior of parents and ensure the welfare of children (Edwards, 2016).


  1. Ahn, Haksoon, DePanfilis, Diane, Frick, Kevin, Barth, P. Richard (2018). Estimating Minimum Adequate Foster Care Costs For Children In The United States. Children and Youth Services Review,84, 55-67. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.10.045
  2. Edwards, Frank (2016). Saving Children, Controlling Families. American Sociological Review,81(3), 575-595. doi:10.1177/0003122416638652
  3. Nesmith, Ande, Patton, Ruth, Christophersen, Kaitlin, Smart, Claire (2017). Promoting quality parent-child visits: the power of the parent-foster parent relationship. Child & Family Social Work (CHILD FAM SOC WORK),22(1), 246-255. doi:10.1111/cfs.12230
  4. Rolock, Nancy, Pérez, Alfred G., White, Kevin R., Fong, Rowena (2018). From Foster Care to Adoption and Guardianship: A Twenty-First Century Challenge. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal,35(1), 11-20. doi: 10.1007/s10560-017-0499-z
  5. Russell, Jesse (2015). Child Welfare Finance and Foster Care Outcomes. Journal of Public Child Welfare,9(2),134-152. doi: 10.1080/15548732.2015.1022277
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“Foster Care Peculiarities In The United States.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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