- Literature review
The problem statement is the development of cognitive of children in the middle school in long term foster care. The concept of foster care homes is somewhat similar to the Cinderella option, wherein children who are unable to return to their families after birth need to be shifted to homes which offer facilities of the same nature.
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The importance of finding stable homes for children who have been abandoned is considered of vital importance. With the onset of adoption facilities being dominated by options which lie outside the public care system, the concept of guardianship and adoption has grown four folds.
While special guardianship and adoption are two successful methods through which foster children can find better homes for stay, when the question revolves around thousands and even millions of homeless children, there is no better place in terms of safety and security, than long term foster homes.
The problem statement is the development of cognitive of children in the middle school in long term foster care.
Long term foster care is directly responsible for improving the overall benefits of middle school foster children. In terms of developing the cognitive of middle school boys, it is indeed the administration of long term foster homes which plays a major role and often acts as a deciding factor for enabling children to develop their basic instincts of survival.
Children of the middle school fall between the age group of 6 to 11 years old and they are often placed under the permanent placement section of the dual system authorities. Long term foster care allows a middle school child to remain in the safe confines of the long term foster care until he/she gains adulthood.
While remaining in the confines of the foster care, children have limited decision making authorities and they develop their cognitive concepts under the guidance of social workers. Permanent foster care therefore instills commitment, skill set and resilience in foster children (Anna, 2009).
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A literature review
Foster parent relationships
In a bid to strengthen collaborative movements between parents and children and develop the cognitive skills of children in long term foster care, foster parents and birth parents need to work together as a team (Hunter et al., 2009). A cooperative model based on the ecological and perspective family system was drawn in which trained foster parents were introduced to look after children who stayed in long term foster care.
In a bid to develop and evolve their cognitive skill set, the US government decided to embark upon a program which involved the inclusion of trained social workers in a bid to enhance and develop the existing skill set of foster children (Susan, Maureen, Kimberly, & William, 2009).
The need for parental engagement
The involvement of families in the overall development of children with regards to their mental capabilities is considered of vital importance. Children who are exposed to adequate parental guidance are likely to develop their cognitive skills in a better way, as compared to those who stay in foster homes.
Children who suffer from disabilities, mental issues and behavioral problems are likely to be looked after by their parents in a different way. The methods thus adopted are considerably expensive, more restrictive and definitely community based in their approach (Susan, Maureen, Kimberly, & William, 2009).
When the middle school child is staying in the confines of a foster home, he is supposed to be looked after by the volunteering social service agent who in turn needs to devote the required time and effort in developing the behavioral skill set of the child. As the child in a foster home is without parental support, it becomes all the more essential for the social worker to look after his/her needs (Hunter et al., 2009).
Engaging parents in child welfare services
Foster care has remained a poorly studied field, despite the fact that there have been numerous articles regarding foster care in newspapers and TV shows (Krystyna & Patricia, 2008). We often read headlines which read, Foster children at risk, foster care reckoning and vows to help and vigilence on a regular basis.
Such headings clearly depict the plight of private agencies involved in the cognitive development of the middle school children in foster homes. Children are often sent to abusive homes wherein they develop permanent scars. Despite the government agencies in the US spending millions of dollars a year on foster care, the fact remains that the results, with respect with the cognitive development of the middle school children, has never been found satisfactory.
A statistical data in South Carolina states that there are 5500 foster children and 2100 foster parents. According to the Foster Care Review South Carolina, a law was passed which allowed participants from each community to aid in the cognitive development of middle school children in foster care, provided they were staying in foster care for a period of 4 months and above (Krystyna & Patricia, 2008).
According to a foster care review (2006) in South Carolina, 11, 128 children were found to be suffering from neglect or abuse. 4831 cases of foster care children were reviewed in 2005, of which, 1781 entered foster care system and 1525 children left the system.
It has also been noticed that on an average a child spend 3 years in foster care, changes placements 4 times and one in every five children who do leave the foster home, would be returning back for long term care. Children with therapeutic sittings are far less likely to get adopted in the longer run (Krystyna & Patricia, 2008)
Foster care in Philadelphia (146-1963)
According to the researches conducted in the Philadelphia foster homes, it was found that children, with special regards to those falling in the middle school, had several behavioral problems which needed immediate attention (PSPCC). The problematic behaviors of children in the middle school ranged from bedwetting, problems in academics and throwing tantrums.
More severe behavioral problems included violent behavior, running away, fire setting and inappropriate sexual activity. One of the main reasons why children in long term foster homes failed to develop their cognitive skill set was because their tutors lacked an educational degree and experience which was required to develop their cognitive skill set.
In accordance to a classic example, a case worker attributed the behavioral problems of a child in the middle school to his shrewd and cunning characteristics, while disregarding the child’s trauma owing to a recent family break up. Nonetheless, the worker seemed sympathetic towards the child’s condition and wrote, “The child was completely dependent on his mother, who miserably failed him.”(Laura, 2008).
Another reason for the lack of appropriate cognitive skill set in the middle school genre of foster homes is owing to the unnecessary trauma the child is supposed to undergo while being separated from the parents and sent to a foster home. In other examples, it is the parents who are responsible for endangering the metal capabilities of their own children.
This is owing to the rise in physical abuse which in turn is related to middle school children. In another classic example, when a mother patted her 4 year old daughter on the rear, she started to scream and begged for mercy. Although the pat was not a hard whack, the social worker understood that the child had been a victim of physical abuse in her own house (Laura, 2008).
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Resiliency, self concept and social support
A survey methodology was used to study the cause and effect relationship between children in a foster home in New York. Interestingly, the children belonged to the middle school. Of the 107 children studies, 55 were placed in family foster care while the remaining 52 were housed in kinship foster care.
It was noticed that mothers who were abused and homeless, visited their children in kingship foster care more often as compared to the well settled families of children placed in normal foster home. Taking help from the Department of Social Services of New York City, data was collected in the fall of 1997.
Children, youth, foster parents and social workers were involved in the case study through the means of detailed questionnaire. This dichotomous variable studied the behavioral functionality of children placed in family foster homes and kinship foster care. The child’s self concept variable was initialized to reflect Parish and Taylor’s (1978) definition.
The second variable was the child’s level of adjustment to placement. The final variable was the social support variable, which followed Cobb’s (1976) approach. It stated the degree of support from a social servant in developing a child’s feel for love, support, value, care and acceptance.
According to the study, it was found that children in the foster homes which received adequate support from their family members, which in this case happened to be kinship foster care, were more likely to develop adequate cognitive skills. Likewise, those with adequate support from qualified social workers had far better chances of developing a rational behavior, than those who were exposed to ill-trained social workers (Jed, 2008).
Foster care is falling apart
It has been recently cited through a research analysis that people who had been in foster homes had a greater chance of being rendered homeless, failing to find employment opportunities, limited to low skilled jobs, dependent on Medicaid and other welfare facilities, prone to crime, susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse and likely to have poor physical as well as mental health.
It has been estimated that 518,000 children who are currently lodged in foster homes across the United States, were the most at-risk youngsters of the American society. One of the main reasons behind this phenomenon was the difficulty these students faced while transitioning from state care into adulthood.
Education, with special regards to the cognitive skills, is the single most deciding factor which ascertains whether a foster child would succeed in life or not. Unfortunately, foster children are known for their poor academic scores, absenteeism, tardiness, low scores on standardized tests and higher dropout rates (Dann, 2007)
Statistics reveal that almost half of the foster kids would remain under foster care for a year, 20% would be staying for more than 3 years and 9% for more than 5 years. Unlike other children, foster children do not have a social network to depend on and they cannot even look up to their parents for support.
Because of this, foster children have a lot of difficulty while trying to develop their cognitive skill set at the middle school level, which in turn would enable them to make a smoother transition into adulthood with ease. According to the annual statistical reports, students placed in foster schools often score 16% to 20% lesser than ordinary students, on standardized state tests (Dann, 2007).
Care to change
The needs of middle school students residing in foster homes have varying mental capacities when compared with normal school going children who reside with their families. In relation with a study that was carried out in England and Scotland, it was found that children, who happened to be in the middle school, were most susceptible to mental health issues.
In England, it was found that as compared to 11% middle school students attending private schools and living with their families who were stated to suffer from cognitive ailments, those who stayed in foster homes had a percentage of as high as 49%.Middle school children in foster homes face terrible mental trauma on seeing their families break down.
The social and psychological effect of this stigma is far greater than what researchers can gauge through their studies and henceforth middle school children residing in foster homes have a stigma attached to staying in artificial environments, multiple placements and constant abuse at home This stigma often stays with them till the very end (Christine, Siobhan, Fiona, & Lelia, 2007).
A research conducted by Voice Of Young People in Care, a voluntary agency working from Northern Ireland. The research involved data collection, in depth quantitative interviews, focus groups with middle school children, postal questionnaire with foster careers and residential workers and parents.
In the research analysis, particular attention was paid to the word, “mental health”, as per the Scottish Needs Assessment Programs report, which recommended that researchers make use of this terminology rather than risking the individual to a social stigma (Christine, Siobhan, Fiona, & Lelia, 2007)
Lessons to learn from China
China has often been considered as a third world nation wherein the concept of human rights was considered a taboo of sorts. Owing to the communist regime, the level of independence in the Chinese republic was confined to strict judicial wraps. In relation with foster homes, recently conducted study showed that very few people in China prefer to leave their children in long term foster homes.
Owing to strong family ties, families tend to help each other in times of distress and dissuade their children from going astray. Those that do find themselves in foster homes are left due to disability or severe economic problems. Nonetheless, middle school children in foster homes were allowed to visit their families on a periodical basis and their basic cognitive skills were developed through the aid of qualified social workers.
The government does not support disabled children and hence most find themselves in foster homes. As per the researchers, most children appeared to be well disciplined and did not seem to lack in cognitive skills. The only problem was the lack of basic amenities, milk and nappy creams (Helen, 2007).
Psychiatrist patients and foster care
One of the main reasons why middle school children in a foster home are subject to psychological problems is going to the stress removal from home and the ongoing abuse and neglect at foster care. This in turn gives rise to the increase in the number of health services focused towards the improvement of the basic cognitive skills of ailing children. Unfortunately, researchers are of the opinion that the existing mental health systems are not in accordance with the ward’s best interest (Helen, 2007).
In accordance to this study, prediction decisions of all admissions in Illinois were studied over a period of 4 years. The study included diagnosis, a reliable measure of youth needs and strengths, in relation with the Children’s Severity of Psychiatric Illness. The level of psychiatric severity or diagnosis is referred to as the illness level in behavioral health care for middle school children in foster care.
The case study identified various predisposing factors such as demographics and social structure as directly responsible for the rise in mental health cases in students residing in foster homes. Children’s age, race and gender were recognized as the single most important factors which made a difference in terms of a child’s well being or illness (Jessica, Scott, Fred, & John, 2007)
The children in foster care were subjected to Screening, Services and Support Analysis (SASS). SASS workers had a one on one interview with the child and the caregiver. The following criteria was decided upon for the hospitalization criteria- aggressive or dangerous behavior which is likely to harm others, even though it is not intentional, aggressive behavior with an aim to execute a predetermined plan, suicidal or homicidal tendency and finally, psychotic and dissociate behavior.
Such symptoms required that the child be admitted in a hospital and placed under the supervision of a trained medical practitioner. According to the study, the final decision rested in the hands of the physiatrist (Jessica, Scott, Fred, & John, 2007)
The results of the studies were based on the facts that middle school children who stayed at foster homes, were subject to gross neglect and abuse. Hence, many children developed depressive tendencies which required a suitable treatment method. This also led to the hampering of their cognitive abilities.
Cognitive skills of middle school children living in foster homes are under a serious threat. According to a worldwide statistical data, it has been noticed that children who are forced into separation from their near and dear ones develop a sense of guilt, which leads to frustration before ending in depression.
Owing to this feeling of guilt, middle school children dwelling in foster homes are not able to compete with children who stay with their families and study in private schools. Hence, in such a scenario, the government agencies that are responsible for looking after the foster homes are supposed to take extra initiatives in strengthening the infrastructural framework and develop a system which allows middle school children staying in foster homes to avoid getting bogged by the social stigma of being homeless.
The government also needs to develop the skills of foster children by teaching appropriate cognitive methods on a regular basis.
Likewise, the social workers attached with foster homes need to try and take initiative and look into the basic problems faced by the foster children. Similarly, the government agencies need to try and hire only those social service agents who have a valid degree and are experienced enough to handle foster children with ease.
If such steps are taken on a random basis, foster homes would be transformed into institutions which can provide hope and opportunities for the homeless besides allowing them to compete and excel in both their personal, as well as professional lives.
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Christine, M., Siobhan, M., Fiona, R., & Lelia, F.(2007). Care just changes your life”:factors impacting upon the mental health of children and young people with experiences of care in Northern Ireland. Child Care in Practice, 13(4), 421- 428.Academic Search Primer Database.
Dann, L. (2007). Foster care is faliling. USA Today Magzine, 136(2750), 60-63.
Helen, W. (2007). Child care in China: lessons for the west. Paediatric Nursing,19(7),45- 47. Academic Search Primer Datbase.
Hunter,et al. (2009). Best practices for mental health in child welfare: Parent support and youth empowerment Guidelines. Child Welfare, 88(1), 194-208. Academic Search Premier Database.
Jessica, S., Scott, L., Fred, B., & John, L.(2007). Evaluating psychiatric hospital admission decisions for children in foster care: An optimal classification tree analysis. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 36(1), 10-15. Academic Search Premier Datbase.
Jed, M.(2008). Resiliency in children and youth in kinship care and family foster care. Child Welfare, 87(6), 117-125. Academic Search Primer Database.
Krystyna, N., & Patricia, P.(2008). Caring for foster children in the South: Why they did not have even one person to care for them. Education, 129(2), 195-200. Academic Search Primer Database.
Laura, C. (2008). Longing to belong: Foster children in mid- century Philadelphia (1946- 1963). Journal of social history, 42(2), 432-437. Academic Search Premier Database.
Susan, K., Maureen, M., Kimberly, H., & William, V. (2009). Engaging parents in child welfare services: Bridging family needs and child welfare mandates. Child Welfare, 88(1), 110-115.Academic Search Premier Database.