Placement Stability for Children in Foster Care Research Paper

Introduction

The identified problem related to child maltreatment is the problem of placement instability in foster care. Foster care stands for the planned placement of a child in a family with specific foster licensure, group home or some type of residential facility which provides child welfare services (Sudol, 2009). As a rule, foster placement is considered to be one of the options implemented in the field of child protection (Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services, 2008).  Statistical data show that over 400,000 children lived in foster care facilities in 2012 (Hernandez-Mekonnen, 2012).  In most cases, children are removed from their parents based on the court’s decision. They enter state custody because of their parents’ neglect caused by alcohol abuse, addiction to drugs, and physical abuse. If the state bears responsibility for a child, some important decisions are made regarding child placement. Research studies show that “a lack of stability is detrimental to the well-being of children in foster care” (Hernandez-Mekonnen, 2012, p. 1).  The major goal of the child protection system is to ensure that the proper strategies are implemented to increase stability of placement for children in foster care. According to researchers, “As placement stability impacts a child’s well-being, and less than a third of disruptions are attributed to actual behavioral problems, the majority of disruptions are due to system or other circumstances that practice and policy interventions can potentially mitigate” (Hernandez-Mekonnen, 2012, p. 1). 

The major goal of this paper is to analyze the identified problem addressing the current research and studies on the topic; proposing changes that would improve the federal law, state law and county policy, as well as discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the current law and proposed changes.  

Discussion of the Current Law on the Topic of Placement Stability for Children in Foster Care

There are several laws that relate to placement stability in foster care.  Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PL 110-351) is aimed at ensuring connection and adequate support to relative caregivers of foster children in order to enhance the health outcomes for children in foster care, ensure access to tribal foster care and adoption practices, as well as to enhance incentives for adoption. Besides, this law guarantees “federal funding to states for subsidized guardianship payments for relatives, incentives for adoption, adoption assistance, kinship navigator programs, new family connection grants, and federal support for youth to age 21” (H.R.3434 – Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980). Hence, this law is focused on providing opportunities for significant increase of placement stability for children and youth who are placed in the care of states, tribes and localities.

In addition, there are some previously adopted laws that have direct relation to placement stability issues.  For example, permanency planning policy relates to legislation of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL 96-272), identifying timeframes for child welfare case planning and reviewing for the first time. Moreover, the Family Preservation and Family Support Services Program of 1993 (PL 103-66) is focused on the issues of family services and relevant preventive services for foster children and youth who are at risk. This law provided opportunities for engaging states in the process of child welfare reformation. Furthermore, Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (PL 103-382) of 1994 and Inter-Ethnic Placement Act of 1996, are designed to prohibit the consideration of race in foster placement decisions. These laws help to find the potential foster families of color and ensure timely placement of foster children into foster families and adoptive homes. Finally, the amending titles IV-B and IV-E of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) help to reduce the length of time foster children and youth spend in foster care facilities, as well as increase the time needed for the process of terminating parental rights and freeing children for adoption (Sudol, 2009).

Findings from the Current Research and Studies on the Topic of Placement Stability for Children in Foster Care

Recent studies explore the issues related to placement stability among children in foster care. Researchers provide valuable facts and statistical data relating to placement stability of children and youth, as well as analyze the effectiveness of relevant legislation and policies (Rubin et al., 2004; McMahon, 2005; Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services, 2008). The research findings offer an opportunity to determine the best practices and model interventions to address the challenges which lead to placement instability (Sudol, 2009).

In the research conducted by David M. Rubin and colleagues (2004), due attention is paid to foster care placement instability, which is caused by “increased mental health costs during the first year in foster care, particularly among children with increasing general health care costs” (p. 231). These research findings are focused on the significance of interventions aimed at addressing the health of children in foster care.

Besides, researchers have explored what contributes to disruption of placement stability and found that there are several system-level factors that can be viewed as obstacles to placement stability in foster care. The analysis performed by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning (2004) shows that improper support for foster parents, inadequate number of foster homes at the state level, the use of emergency shelters and temporary placements as initial placements for children in foster care, as well as the lack of specialized foster care placements for children with developmental disabilities or behavioral problems (McMahon, 2005).  These obstacles lead to inappropriate foster care placements, poor relationships between children and caregivers, and subsequent moves of children. In addition, there are some foster family factors that cause increased placement instability. According to researchers, foster parents’ attitudes toward the child affect placement stability in foster care (McMahon, 2005). Some foster parents dislike the foster child, while others are concerned about the foster child’s impact on the family members. Furthermore, stressful events, conflicts and occur child welfare-related problems may increase the occurrence of disruptions (McMahon, 2005).

As a matter of fact, the review of literature on the selected issue highlights the significance of current knowledge on placement stability in foster care and empirical research findings on the key factors that have a strong impact on placement stability for children in foster care. According to the Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services (2008), “placement stability is an important issue due to a high number of children remaining in foster care”(p. 3). It has been found that in the United States, Canada, and other countries permanent plans specially developed for foster children play an important role in social, physical, emotional and cognitive development of children (Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services, 2008). Besides, foster children and youth who have to experience multiple moves because of placement instability are at high risk for poor health outcomes, as well as poor levels of academic achievement and socio-emotional development. As a result, foster children and youth tend to “develop insecure attachments and distress due to the instability and uncertainty that comes with not having a stable family environment” (Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services, 2008).

Proposed changes that would improve on the following: federal law, state law and county policy

Some changes can be proposed to improve the relevant federal law, state law and county policy. These ones include the changes that result from the accurate analysis of research findings, which provide information about the identified factors which can have a positive impact on placement stability for foster children, as well as the factors that help to enhance the development of new placements in foster care. These changes could contribute to the best practices for the relevant child welfare institutions (Sudol, 2009).

Actually, the legislation related to child welfare services shows the urgent need for foster children and youth to be placed in stable, well-developed and properly managed foster care facilities with the major goal – to succeed in improving health outcomes, safety, permanency and well-being. The proposed changes can help child welfare institutions to address the challenges identified by researchers in relation to the factors that have a positive impact on placement stability, including kinship placements for children, effective support and services provided to foster families and developing caseworker contacts with foster parents (Mallon & Hess, 2013; Sudol, 2009).

federal law i.e. the Constitution, No Child Left Behind Act

It is recommended making changes in the federal laws, such as the U.S. Constitution and No Child Left Behind Act, adding foster care support in the form of federal funding to foster families. Significant improvements in the federal laws should be aimed at addressing the needs of children through the implementation of the proper child welfare policies and practices. Federal funding can help to promote children’s well-being if the proper assessment and coordination are provided to facilitate the development of children in foster care (Sudol, 2009).

state law – i.e. Florida Statute, Chapter 39, Criminal law

It is recommended making changes in the state laws, such as Florida Statute, Chapter 39, and Criminal law, providing additional statutes related to the strategies that help to significantly decrease the existing placement disruptions. The following options could be added as the proposed changes to state laws: ensuring the proper funding to provide support and training for foster parents; providing concurrent planning; offering a wide range of placement-related services, such as transportation services, relief care services, and foster family groups counseling services; ensuring effective foster child-related services, such as mental health services and in-school and out-of-school initiatives; and enhancing the retention of caseworkers by providing additional support, such as grants, flexible schedules, working conditions, and personal and professional development opportunities (Mallon & Hess, 2013; Sudol, 2009).

county policy – i.e. DCF operating procedures

It is recommended promoting permanency planning processes, which could be reflected in the county policy, such as discount cash flow (DCF) operating procedures.  Certain changes should be made to ensure assessment of investment opportunities through the proper analysis of the potential for investments in child welfare services (Sudol, 2009).

Discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of current law

There are some advantages of the current laws, which relate to placement stability for children in foster care, namely the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 and its amendments.  These advantages include the ability to address a number of challenges faced by foster families and groups, flexibility of procedures, ensuring permanency as the major goal of the child welfare system. The current laws are focused on the implementation of the strategy that children should have permanent home (Mallon & Hess, 2013). According to researchers, “the law created financial incentives for the development of preventive and reunification services, required states to make reasonable efforts to provide these services as a condition of funding, and also required the development of a permanent plan adoption, guardianship or another permanent living arrangements for every child not reunified within 18 months of being taken into care” (Mallon & Hess, 2013, p. 608).

At the same time, there are some disadvantages of the current law, which include failure to address the factors that affect the occurrence of placement instability in foster care. Recent studies show that “20-25% of children and youth who enter out-of-home care are neither reunified nor find other permanent homes through adoption or guardianship” (Mallon & Hess, 2013, p. 608). This fact means that for many children placement instability is still an acute problem.

Discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed changes

The proposed changes have both advantages and disadvantages for foster children and youth, and the whole society. The advantages of the proposed changes aimed at improving the federal law, state law and county policy related to placement stability for children in foster care include the provision of massive opportunities for improvement of the functioning of the child welfare system through establishment of security and permanence for children and youth; enhancement of children’s environment and behavior patterns due to stable placement in foster care; and effective treatment of children’s disorders due to stable placements (Hernandez-Mekonnen, 2012; Mallon & Hess, 2013; Rubin et al., 2004).

Actually, the disadvantages of the proposed changes include the need for the increased financial support to successfully implement these changes in the federal laws, state laws and county policies. It has been found that children and youth in foster care face a number of problems that could be solved by joint actions of federal, state and local authorities (Mallon & Hess, 2013). Undoubtedly, sue attention should be paid to the serious family problems that bring children and youth into foster care. The child welfare system could be improved due to effective funding. Thus, the significance of safety and stability to the development of a child should not be overlooked (Hernandez-Mekonnen, 2012; Mallon & Hess, 2013; Rubin et al., 2004; Sudol, 2009).

In general, the proposed changes have more advantages than disadvantages because these changes are aimed at ensuring foster family stability. This fact means that foster children and youth should not be exposes to risk factors like poverty, abuse, maltreatment, as well as the foster care experience. Policymakers should be focused on healthy development of children in foster care, preventing inappropriate physical health, a wide range of attachment disorders, poor brain functioning, inadequate social behavior and skills, as well as various mental health problems (Mallon & Hess, 2013). There is a need for ensuring stable foster families, which will be able to reinforce the resilience of children and youth in care and prevent the negative effects of placement instability on children’s health outcomes (Sudol, 2009).

Conclusion

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the problem of placement instability for children in foster care is an acute problem faced by our society. Failure to provide placement for a foster child in a safe and nurturing setting, such as foster family or group, will have negative impact on the child and the society in general. Instability of placement in foster care is associated with higher costs for mental health care services. There is a need for continual enhancement of placement stability in order to improve health outcomes for children and young people entering care. Hence, policymakers should be focused on developing and implementing effective changes in current laws and policies to further facilitate and improve foster care services delivery.

References

Hernandez-Mekonnen, R, (2012) “Foster care: An analysis of factors that impact placement stability”. Dissertation available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3551691.

Lee, S., Jonson-Reid, M. & Drake, B. (2012) “Foster care re-entry: Exploring the role of foster care characteristics, in-home child welfare services and cross-sector services,” Children and Youth Services Review, 34 (9):1825–1833.

Mallon, G. P. & Hess, P. M. (2013) Child Welfare for the Twenty-first Century: A Handbook of Practices, Policies, and Programs. Columbia University Press.

McMahon, J. (2005). “Foster care placement disruption in North Carolina,” Views on Foster Care and Adoption in North Carolina, 10 (1): 14-15.

Northern California Training Academy, the Center for Human Services. (2008) Placement Stability in Child Welfare Services Issues, Concerns, Outcomes and Future Directions Literature Review. Retrieved from:<http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/pdf/PlacementStability.pdf>

Rubin, D. M., Alessandrini, E. A., Feudtner, C., Mandell, D. S., Localio, A. R., Hadley, T. (2004) “Placement Stability and Mental Health Costs for Children in Foster Care,” Pediatrics,113(5): 231-241.

Sudol, T. (2009). Placement Stability Information Packet. National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, A Service of Children’s Bureau/ACF/DHHS. Retrieved from:<http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/info_services/Placement_Stability_Info_Pack.htm>

H.R.3434 – Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. 96th Congress (1979-1980). Retrieved from:< https://www.congress.gov/bill/96th-congress/house-bill/3434>

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

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freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: May 24, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

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