Issues in Our Foster Care System

Amber Hawkes, News Editor

Can you imagine what it would be like to have no permanent home or family? Or maybe you know what that’s like all too well. As of 2017 there were 700,000 children in foster care ranging from newborns to 17years old. Foster care and adoption have long-lasting and permanent effects on children which can be negative or positive. However, a large majority of the time children’s experiences in the system tend to be negative. 


Sex trafficking has been heavily liked to foster care. A study in California estimated that 50-80% of sexually trafficked children were in foster care. The idea behind taking children from foster care is that when these children go missing while in the states care they become less of a priority. This is due to the fact that the pressure of the media and families of other missing children is much higher than that of foster children. No child chooses to be put in this situation and yet they are still susceptible to everything that comes from the foster care system. 


The foster care system has been going on for a long time there are records from around the time of the New Testament. The idea behind the foster care system is to give children “good” homes so they will be able to progress and be in a better place then the families they were taken from. Or give children with no family a place to go.  In other countries there are orphanages but the system is similar. 


Mental health is a huge issue in the US with 16.5% of youth having a diagnosed mental health disorder as of 2016 according to NAMI. Development of mental disorders typically happens in early childhood to adulthood. Disorders can be caused by trauma, as well as an unstable living environment which often causes behavioral disorders. Psychotropic medications are given to children in foster care much more readily than children who are not in the system. Most children in the US don’t have enough access to mental health services but once in the foster system the access to those resources decrease. 


Most children in foster care are victims of repeated abuse. Oftentimes that’s why they enter the system and while in the system sometimes the abuse persists. During ages 3-4yrs the brain is going through a critical developmental stage. The anatomic brain systems are being developed at this time and this is the part of your brain that essentially makes you who you are. Personality traits as well as coping skills are developed as well as emotional functions and can be easily impaired with emotional stress, neglect, trauma, or abuse. 


The foster care system has many flaws to its intended purpose is to give children a home. And potentially get them away from other harmful situations. This can become problematic with the amount of abuse and sex trafficking that happens within the foster care system. Mental health for children in foster care is also a big concern for health professionals and families. 


Credit line:

“In 2017, the Rate of Children in Foster Care Rose in 39 States.” Child Trends, 27 Feb. 2020,

Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption and Dependent Care. “Developmental Issues for Young Children in Foster Care.” American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2000,

FacebookTwitterYoutubeLinkedIn Adoption Center1500 Walnut St, Suite 701 Philadelphia. “Effects of Foster Care on Children.” Effects of Foster Care on Children | Adoption Center, 1 Apr. 2015,