Problems Facing Children In Foster Care
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Although sources are relatively limited, the literature and research available pertaining to the problems experienced by children in out-of-home or foster care settings reveals that in spite of policy reform and new programs, foster cares issues continue to abound. An author suggests that this phenomenon offers significant implications for further study if the conflicts and negative ramifications of foster care are to be reduced or eliminated.
The circumstances and experiences of foster care have been found to contribute to a number of issues in the brain development and cognitive and social development of children. Developmental delay and behavioral complications have been determined in a number of studies involving children from infancy to adolescence. The occurrence of these delays and complications, as well as the experiences of increased mental and medical conditions, are much higher for children in foster care than in children in the general population.
In addition to these resultant complications, many children in foster care enter the system with the following problems:
- Developmental issues already in progress due to neglect
- Child abuse
- Lack of medical care
In a study conducted by an author, one-third of the children in foster care that were evaluated with identifiable conditions of developmental delay were found to have experienced environments of neglect and psychosocial stress in infancy or early childhood.
An author submits that neglect, particularly in the failure to maintain proper nutrition and health care, is a primary initiator ofthe developmental problems experienced by children in foster care and is demonstrated most dramatically in infants and toddlers.The lack of nurturance for both emotional and physical needs has a profound effect on the immature nervous systems of young children as well as on their emotional well being.
While many of the experiences that lead to developmental delay may come well before the child's entry into the foster care system, the research is clear that the foster care environment can contribute to the failure to develop properly. According an author this is due largely to the fact that many children experience their first placement in the foster care system in early infancy or childhood when brain growth and cognitive and social development are most active.
The brain structures that govern character attributes, coping abilities, and learning processes are most active and impressionable in the early years of life.An author stresses the importance of these structures by submitting that they are strengthened and made durable through the positive reinforcement of emotional support and social and family interaction.Conversely, emotional and cognitive interruptions such as lack of emotional stimulation or abuse in the early years of child development prohibit the proper development of these structures.