Focus Group Study: Foster Care Families, Children, and Education
The nature of foster care is that children are being removed from a home
where their parents/guardians are unable or unwilling to care for them. This statement drastically minimizes the horrendous situations from which many of these children are emerging. Several respondents spoke of sexual
abuse at the hands of family members (sometimes more than one family member), physical abuse that required hospitalization, abject neglect where toddlers were forced to survive on dog food. For these children, survival took precedence over a focus on obtaining a quality education.
Several of the former foster care children indicated they were in a different
living arrangement and school every year of their formative years. For
some, this transitory behavior began with their birth parents who, in several
instances, moved frequently. Some of this movement also occurred due
to failed efforts to re-unite the family once social services became involved.
However, in a number of instances, once a child was placed solidly in the
system, social services would frequently relocate the child.
Several foster care parents indicated they have taken care of “hundreds”
of foster care children. For these foster care parents, they typically have a
few children who have been with them long-term (a few years). In some
instances, some of these foster care parents have even adopted children
who first came to them via the foster care system. However, several of the
homes represented in these discussions are often used as short-term refuge
for children in an urgent situation. For this need, it appears that there is a
constant flow of children in and out of these homes.