Whose fault is it anyway? Foster care, that is.
Some may take offense at this question. As a social worker, I find myself bristling at the suggestion that blame has any place in child welfare. And yet, I would have to say, it is a constant undercurrent in the foster care system.
Depending on how much a person knows about child welfare and their level of involvement in the ‘system’, the perspective may vary. Some blame those horrible pedophiles who seek out innocent children. Some blame the biological parents who abuse or neglect their children. Or the question may be raised about extended family that should know that something is amiss in child abuse/neglect cases. Some may blame judges for not severing parental ties quickly enough so the innocent victims of child abuse can be adopted and live happily ever after. Others may take a more ‘big picture’ approach and blame poverty.
Perhaps the most disturbing move in the blame game is the tendency to look down on children in foster care. I know, it sounds like an evil, horrible thing to do and who would think this anyway? Unfortunately, many people view foster children as somehow different from every other child growing up. I’ve heard it all….’those kids’ are dirty, ‘those kids’ are naughty, ‘those kids’ cause trouble. I recall a former colleague’s concern about foster children moving into her school district and even more alarming, one of ‘them’ would be in her daughter’s class. Oh, the scandal! I don’t know what she thought would happen. Maybe ‘foster care’ is contagious? Or all foster children are juvenile delinquents in training? Whatever it was that concerned her, I was equally concerned that this child who now would be sitting next to my friend’s daughter might be aware of the sentiment that somehow, foster care was her fault.
So my plea to anyone who might come into contact with a child who has been placed into foster care, please check your prejudices at the door.