Home Issues + Resources Foster Care Role of Child Welfare Systems in Providing Foster Care

Role of Child Welfare Systems in Providing Foster Care

When children are not safe at home, child welfare systems must take action.

When child welfare officials determine that children have suffered abuse or neglect and cannot safely remain with their families, they are obligated to remove them and provide safe and appropriate temporary homes in which those children can live and grow.

They must also quickly find permanent homes for children, through either safe reunification with their birth families or adoption if reunification is not possible, and they must provide adequate services to ensure children’s health and well-being and to help them recover from the trauma they have experienced in their abusive or neglectful homes.

But many child welfare systems are underfunded, understaffed, beset by serious systemwide problems, and lacking the leadership necessary to fix them. They compound the trauma that abused and neglected children have already experienced by:

  • Bouncing children from one unstable placement to another, uprooting their lives repeatedly and without warning, and drastically reducing the chances that they will ever end up in permanent homes.
  • Failing to protect children in foster care from further abuse and neglect.
  • Failing to provide adequate medical, dental, and mental health services to ensure children’s health and well-being and help them cope with the abuse and neglect they have endured.
  • Failing to move children quickly into permanent homes through either safe reunification with their families or adoption when reunification is not possible.
  • Warehousing children in institutions, group homes, emergency shelters, and other “temporary” and non-family settings.
  • Overmedicating children to control their behavior.
  • Neglecting children’s educational needs.

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