The Impacts of Foster Care on Children's Health

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There has been a significant number of children in America who have been exposed to violence and abuse in their homes from their parents. Child abuse isn't just about black eyes and broken bones. While physical abuse is the most visible to the eye, not all signs of child abuse it obvious. Many of these children may look fine on the outside but are actually breaking on the inside. All types of abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life. Removing a child from their home and putting them in foster care can cause mental illnesses, damage a child’s sense of self, their future relationships, and ability to function at home, work and school.

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Many of these children are victims of abuse and neglect from their parents, which puts the children at serious risk for long-term physical and mental health problems. If a child or teen has gone through a traumatic experience, like abuse from a parent, it is normal for them to feel lots of emotions, such as distress, fear, helplessness, guilt, shame or anger. They may start to feel better after a couple days or weeks, but sometimes, these feelings do not go away. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. According to Dr. Susanne Babbel, an experienced psychologist and trauma therapist, states, 'The severity of the violence, the duration of exposure, early-age onset, and the victim's cognitive assessment of the violence (perceived degree of threat, predictability, and controllability) exacerbate the symptoms' (Babbel 1). Babbel is basically saying depending on the severity of the abuse, this will determine the severity on the symptoms. She analysis how symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. When a child is at harm from their parents Child Protective Services are called to investigate if the abuse is true or false.

The main job of Child Protective Services is to keep kids safe from abuse and neglect. Many of the times, this includes removing a child from their home to protect them from danger. However, removing a child and placing them in foster care can actually create more suffering than before. Little children may feel guilty about the abuse and will blame themselves. This violence and abuse hurts children’s self-esteem. Dr. Lars Madsen, a clinical psychologist, examines how over time low self-esteem will reduce the quality of a person’s life in many different ways. Madsen states, “ it’s [self-esteem] frequently traced to abusive or dysfunctional in their early years, which the effects can still persist well into adulthood” (Madsen). Furthermore, adolescents with low self-esteem most commonly leads to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, sometimes ending with tragic results. Anxiety and depression is a constant battle in teens. Dr. Mary Greiner, a Medical Director for CHECK Foster Care Center, states, “ as many as one and five will suffer depression during their lifetime” (Greiner 34). She explains how when a child or teen is moved around from home to home this can cause them to feel like they are not loved. To feel as if they have no worth or value in their life. A child would never really feel loved, when their constantly being reminded of how their own biological mother or father couldn't love them but instead abused them. Brain Minty, psychiatric social work educator for the Association for Child Psychology, examines how the main qualities that make an effective foster care parent is someone who has a genuine interest in children and will focus on the child’s best interests and needs. Children in the system need a foster parent who can commit to taking care of them and loving them. Children in the system can have a good experience in the foster care system but it will need good parents. If we educate foster parents on healthy living and showing them the support needed, where they can effectively help and change a child's life.

Child protective services are promising kids in foster care that they will have a better chance at a future. They are promised they will be placed in a safe home, one that they can call family. Yet, for many of these children these promises do not come true and become meaningless. As statistics show, many children are aging out of they system and left nowhere to turn. Caroline Bailey, states, “ More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year” (Bailey). This means that 23,000 youth are being left out on the streets with no where to go, enhancing the mental and physical health problems that began through foster care, making situations worse. These teens become instantly homeless and only a few will achieve a higher education. This kids are left out on the streets, learning to survive on their own, having no access to reach help.

Soonman Kwon examines how health care is an essential part of the quality of life because it can directly affect one's daily activity and psychological and physical well-being. Having access to health care impacts one's overall physical, social, and mental health status and quality of life. This can give them access to medicine and vaccines, which can help improve their health greatly. Also, foster parents can help teens find a program or best fit treatment dealing with their specific mental or physical needs through the use of counselling or talking with a therapist. Some teens can cope with being placed in the system better than others. Almost all teens will benefit from talking to a counselor about their feelings and their previous home life. Foster care providers can help their teens through some of these issues by talking to them, being patient with them, and creating an environment that is structured and supportive. However, many foster care providers are not educated on the how to provide and care for children and teens mental and physical effects. All things considered, foster care does more harm than good.

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