Family foster care: can it survive the evidence?

Ainsworth, Frank, and Hansen, Patricia (2014) Family foster care: can it survive the evidence? Children Australia, 39 (2). pp. 87-92.

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Abstract

The media coverage of foster care in Australia is replete with adoration for foster carers who look after disadvantaged and difficult children and youth. As this article is being written, New South Wales is holding a 'foster care week' with enhanced media coverage and praise for foster carers, the recruitment of new foster carers and acclaim for the 'foster carer of the year'. Yet, there is another side to foster care that offers less than ideal circumstances for children in care. There is the worrying issue of multiple placements, the problem with children and young people running away from foster care before they reach the legal age for discharge, and evidence of increased incidence of poor educational attainment and involvement in juvenile offending for young people in foster care. In addition, there are cases of foster children being abused by foster carers. As adults, former foster-care children and youth are over-represented among the homeless, in adult correction centres, the unemployed and the users of mental health services. This article documents these negative outcomes of entering the foster-care system, and asks whether family (or non-relative) foster care can survive this evidence. For too many children and young people, family foster care may not provide better outcomes than less-than-optimal parental care from which the children were removed. An alternative is to reduce the use of family foster care and increase intensive support and parenting education services for birth parents who have limited parenting capacity. The aim should be to limit the number of children being taken into care.

Item ID: 33495
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: foster care; juvenile offending; educational achievement; mental health; early parenting
ISSN: 2049-7776
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2014 04:42
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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Last 12 Months: 16
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