The Influence of a Good Caretaker for Foster Care Children
Elizabeth MillerMiss Rosche English 1102 25 March 2015The Influence of a Good Caretaker for Foster Care ChildrenThe foster care system is a system for children who have been abandoned, who have been left behind by their parents voluntarily and children who have no other choice due to bad decisions made by their parents. The system was created to be safe for these kids and helps them succeed in life; however, it does quite the opposite. Often times foster care children end up abusing substances, making similar choices as their parents, sometimes pregnant, and often end up homeless. Most often, young girls become pregnant because of loneliness, depression, etc. Throughout their life, no one is willing to teach them right from wrong. People in this world do not often recognize that the children they are around are the children in foster care. Teachers do not advocate for these kids in school and caregivers often just want the extra paycheck. No wonder these kids hardly ever turn out well and succeed in life. Foster care children need to have one positive influence in their life, someone they can trust and go to, and someone they know that loves them. It allows these children an opportunity to learn about life and hopefully have great opportunities at life. This essay will explain how a good caretaker can positively affect foster children in education, health, relationships, future family, and future career. A good caretaker can positively affect foster children with their education. Due to multiple changes in placements, foster care children do not get the opportunity of consistent teachers and consistent education. The children get removed from one school and put in another one. It is a reoccurrence among the foster care children. They know they will be moved around from foster family to family, from group home to group shelter. It is a pattern that they have fallen in line with. One of the many problems with such a pattern is the children’s’ education. The school staff are not well trained in order to teach these students right. Tory Cox from the School of Social Work in the University of Southern California writes, “school personnel are often not adequately informed about the needs of these children, do not feel supported in working with them, and do not have a collaborative relationship with local child welfare agencies” (59). The educators whom takes care of these children for at least eight hours a day and for nine months of the year are not well equipped to know how to provide for their needs. Since these children are often the ones who act up during class and get in trouble some teachers do not even put them in the system since they move schools so often. That statement is a shame! It is an assumption about all foster care children, and the people who have a chance to change that statement do not pay enough attention to it. So the question becomes what can be done about this sad situation? Teachers should have to go through training as they are earning their certificates to learn how to teach these children and give them proper support in their education. Cox also mentions how interventions for the younger children in the foster system have found to have a positive result to these interventions, including lessened aggression, increased overall development, and increased behavioral control (60). An intervention opens an opportunity for teachers to grow closer to the foster care children in their classroom and possibly be the good influence in their lives as well as the change in their lives and their education.A good caretaker can greatly influence a child’s health. Foster Care children are often not taught how to take care of their health. Whether one considers the mental health of a foster care child or their behavioral patterns. More often than not, both are disturbed in these children. They do not have people in their life to learn how to take care of themselves and what is good for their body and what is not. Woods, Farineau, and McWey are employees of the Department of Family and Child Sciences and they say, “Children in foster care are also at significantly greater risk for major depressive disorder, mania, and posttraumatic stress disorder… [And their] mental health problems also result from disruptions associated with the removal of children from their homes” (221). They establish the reason why these children act out and have health issues, whether it is using substances or just being disruptive and disobeying rules to gain attention. These children want some kind of affection and they will almost do anything to gain it, whether its good or bad attention. This is why the role of the caretaker is so important. If these children had a loving caretaker who only wants what is best for these children, they might not have mental or behavioral health problems.
Continuing with the issue of foster children’s health and the effect of the caretaker, Phillip Shaver, Mario Mikulincer, and Brooke C. Feeney conducted a study with different kinds of relationships and how love can affect different outcomes. One of the studies that were included was the “Attachment and Bio behavioral Catch-up” and it included a one-hour home visit to foster homes every week. The study said, “Compared to control foster infants, ABC infants were significantly more likely to be securely attached to their foster mothers. Moreover, in the ABC group, sixty percent of the children were securely attached at eighteen months of age, a rate typically observed in lower risk families,” (512-513). These children had an intervention in their life that saved them from health issues in the future all because the foster care mother took responsibility and actually did her job of loving the child and giving him the care he needs. An attachment like this between the foster care mother and the infants proves that interventions in these children’s lives gives them a better chance at life and helps their overall well-being and health. The questions that arise are who is going to fund programs or interventions in these children’s lives. It is not so much about funding but what an average person can do by just paying attention. Most people know of a foster care child whether they have taken the time to realize that or not. If people in our society were willing to try and be a good influence on these children instead of solely looking to satisfy ourselves, there would be no question as to who will fund the interventions and counseling. It would be the average people that these children see and talk to every day. This kind of attention from the average people around these children every day could drastically improve their health, emotionally, physically, and mentally. A good caretaker can influence a foster child’s relationships as well. Foster Care children also never learn how to deal with their emotions and relationships with people, which could affect every aspect of their life. Emotions are very important in life because it often helps people make decisions, if a foster child has no control over their emotions they may not make the best decisions for themselves. They may not have the best relationships with people cause often they lash out at people who are just trying to be nice to them. Foster children do not understand people being nice to them cause they have seen the worst in people, therefore unless one person is consistently being nice and trying to reach them, the child will keep lashing out at them. A few college professors at Boston University that study social work writes, “A stable, consistent, and caring adult presence is precisely what many such youths lack as they reach the age of legal adult maturity and may no longer have access to foster care services,”(Spencer, Collins, Ward, and Smashnay 225). The stable adult in their life needs to consistently be pursuing the foster child and showing them they care. It gives them someone they can open up to about all their emotions, relationships, hurts and worries. The adult can also help prepare them for adulthood. The professors also mentions how some of the challenges the foster children face once they age out of the system have relation with the lack of strong, healthy, and stable relationships which prepares them for adulthood (Spencer, Collins, Ward, and Smashnay 226). Again, they prove how the intervention of one stable human being who is consistent in trying to reach, teach, care for, listen, and love on these kids can have a positive affect on their future relationships and their life. A good caretaker influences the way foster care children will one day raise their own family. As foster care children grow in adulthood they do not know how to raise a family because they have never experienced a real family setting. The children who end up in the foster care system are a result of parents who did not want them, could not take of them, or found something else to be more important than their children. Therefore, these children often feel abandoned and they do not understand how a real family could work. This act from parents is a hard thing to prevent but once the children are in the system the state could decide to actually show them what a family is suppose to be like. It is up to the caretakers to show them the love that helps families stay together. Kiaras Gharabaghi is a faculty member in the school of Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University in Toronto. Gharabaghi says that foster children learn more through how the caretaker approaches situations and watching how they respond to life. The caretakers and children should be seen as partners in a learning journey through life (44). The environment that the caretaker sets up when they meet the foster children should be consistent throughout their stay. This shows the children how a foster mother/father has authority but they also love the children. It gives a greater meaning to family than these foster kids have ever seen before. Tonia Stott, a child social worker, explains how “their placement in foster care should also reduce some of their risks because they are removed from their high risk environments” (62). The reason these kids are in the foster care system is due to dangerous environments that the parents have put them in. Once they go to a foster care shelter or house they should be free of danger and well looked after. If the system was more prepared on accomplishing the safety and family-like setting in the foster system these children would understand how a family functions with love.