Foster Care Crisis in America’s Recession

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The foster care crisis in America is three-fold.  There are not enough quality families in America to support the children who need them.  Further, children with emotional and behavioral issues in the system are on the rise, creating a need for additional families in this already deteriorating situation.  To make matters worse, the recession in our country is directly affecting both biological and foster families as well as provider reimbursements, frontline caseworkers and mental health.


According to Faith Bridge Foster Care, there are not enough families for the children who need them.  Researchers for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) agree.  Due to the economy today, many cases in the need for foster care are due to the homelessness, poverty and unemployment growing rapidly.  Experts believe the need for foster care will rise as the economy worsens.  “Child welfare workers,” The Foster Club says, “are already seeing a rise in reported child abuse and neglect cases, as much as twenty percent in some areas.”  Unfortunately some foster families are simply unprepared for the upheaval of their family.  It is, according to the Faith Bridge Foster Care Agency, because of frequent agency visits, phone calls, court dates, and “seemingly endless paperwork,” plus the shock that the system does not have the sufficient support they need, forty to sixty percent of foster families leave the system within a year.  Without foster families in the system, some children will grow to adulthood and be left to fend for themselves with little to no influence of family structure and minimum skills for employment without any support system to ever fall back upon.  This could begin a cycle of uneducated youth released into the world to create families that are more probable to end up in the foster system due to the lack of care, funds, structure and etc. the first time through.


Because foster children are separated from their biological families, and often times separated from their siblings, after several months there is detachment issues these children acquire.  The longer they are away from their biological families, the harder it is for foster children to rebuild any sort of relationship, whether with their families, or later in life.  Because of this, foster children can lash out in different types of behavioral problems.  According to the DHS Medication Management Work Group, three times as many foster children, as opposed to other children, end up on psychotropic drugs in low-income families.  This can make foster children even more destabilized due to the treatment of their stress symptom rather than the root of that stress.


In nearly every state the amount of money needed for foster care far outweighs the government’s reimbursement rate due to the economic crisis our country is in today.  Not only is there an issue with foster children needing better mental health facilities, treatment programs and etc, but the issue worsens because the foster care system often cuts the budget in three major areas: provider reimbursements, frontline caseworkers and mental health.  This being said, in the case of these budget cuts, there would be less training for group home staff and parental training.  With fewer caseworkers there would be the probability of foster children being in more hazardous situations and an increased risk of trauma to those children. According to CHOP, children are often placed in foster care by availability rather than a good match for foster children and their long-term needs.  Some child protective agencies are requested to send children to government recruited homes rather than professional agencies to save on money.  Unfortunately these homes are not necessarily held to a set standard to validate said homes are the best place for the individual needs of those children.  Further, with the already unstable environments of some foster children, plus the budget cuts of mental health programs such as help and crisis lines, an increase in foster children’ suicides, pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse may follow.


In nearly every state the amount of money needed for foster care far outweighs the government’s reimbursement rate due to the economic crisis our country is in today.  According to NPR radio in March of 2010, over 1,000 children die of abuse and neglect every year; and to further chill our society, states with big deficits are cutting child abuse prevention programs when those programs are what various communities need to cut down on the ever growing death, neglect and abuse rates (some due to the recession to begin with).  And although researcher Rob Green, on behalf of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, states that the recession may not be a conclusive reason for the rise in child abuse and neglect.  The findings in November of 2010 by the researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conclude that the economic downturn often hits the most vulnerable children and families the hardest.  It takes years of post recession for families to come back to the pre recession income levels.  Lower income families obviously take even longer to bounce back.  CHOP also explains that public programs play an incredibly important role in the keeping the families influenced by the recession in a less stressed environment, blocking more trauma for the usually already traumatized children and families involved in foster care.  In short, the most vulnerable foster children, foster families and programs supporting them would get the short end of the stick for years to come.

About the Author

As a researcher, Karen Jean Matsko Hood places her focus on child abuse and neglect and drug abuse.  She also researches to find possible solutions to these growing social problems. Hood has incorporated the studies of findings of research and drug abuse in families in her writings.  Hood’s research topics include such diverse topics as education, attachment disorder, attachment disorder therapy and treatment, the foster care system, human development, parenting, adoption, health, and historical topics.  Hood uses her B.S. Degree in Natural Science along with her research training in her Ph.D. program to conduct research on various plants and animal topics including equine, canine, and botanical research.


Hood resides in Greenacres, Washington, along with her husband, sixteen multi-racial and special needs children and foster children.  Her hobbies include cooking, baking, collecting various collectibles and antiques, photography, indoor and outdoor gardening, and the cultivation of unusual flowering plants and orchids.  She enjoys raising several specialty breeds of animals including Icelandic horses, bichon frises, cockapoos, Icelandic sheepdogs, and a few rescue cats.  Hood also enjoys bird-watching and finds all aspects of nature precious.  She demonstrates a passionate appreciation of the environment and a respect for all life.


For more information, you can contact the author at her office below:


Karen Jean Matsko Hood

507 N. Sullivan Rd. Suite LL-7

Spokane Valley, WA 99037 USA

Phone: (509) 924-3550 Fax: (509) 922-9949

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