Children entering foster care generally have a higher than average number of health problems, and the care they receive is usually insufficient to meet their needs. These circumstances arise from the preplacement history of these children and from within the dual systems of foster care and publicly funded health care to which responsibility for their well-being is assigned.
Children enter foster care because their parents are unwilling or unable to provide for their physical and emotional needs. Most often, these children come from single-parent households where poverty, lack of formal education, and absence of social support contribute to inadequate and inappropriate child care. More than 80% of the children have experienced physical or sexual abuse and/or neglect. Their previous health care is likely to have been fragmented. As a consequence, foster children are likely to have unrecognized or untreated chronic disorders, a high rate of emotional and developmental problems, and impaired school performance.
Placement of children into foster care is ordinarily a court-ordered process used when the application of resources by social service agencies fail to, or appear unlikely to, improve a home situation deemed detrimental to the children's well-being. Foster care is intended to be a planned temporary service designed to strengthen families and to enhance the quality of life for children. The imposed separation of children from parents is a decision intended to be based on the best interests of the children. It is to be an opportunity for families to receive the social support and counsel they require to be reconstituted.
- Copyright © 1987 by the American Academy of Pediatrics