The Long Term Effects of Foster Care

November 16, 2014 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

When kids are ripped from their homes in abuse and neglect or CPS cases, few stop to think what happens to those kids after removal. These kids are presumed to be safe and happy without giving it any more thought. While some children are placed with relatives, others are placed into foster care with strangers instead.

This is a common story. Yet, in Michigan, over half of children live in two or more placements while in foster care. These kids fill their suitcases many times. Often, the “suitcase” amounts to nothing more than a simple kitchen garbage bag.

Many important items get lost in the shuffle for these kids. Sometimes beloved toys do not make it into their garbage bags. Or other lost items include important photos, keepsakes, and even documents including social security cards and birth certificates.

However, even more precious things are lost in this process. Things that cannot be put into a garbage bag. These include feelings of stability, a sense of belonging, connections with other people like family, friends, and teachers. Finally, even the ability to trust the adults around them.

Every time a child moves to a new home, regardless if with relatives, a foster family or another residential placement, that child must adjust to a new place and routine. Each home has a different culture with a varied set of expectations that the kid must get used to in a “sink or swim” fashion. The child has no idea what to expect here.

Moving from place time and time again makes it harder for kids to feel safe and secure at home, even long after leaving the foster care system. Kids learn early on they cannot get attached to their friends, caretakers, or surroundings.

Yanking a kid abruptly from his or her home teaches a chief lesson: that he or she can only depend on oneself. Self-esteem gets hit hard, leaving the child wondering if he or she is unwanted or damaged somehow. So there is little doubt why some people have trouble making healthy connections after leaving foster care.

While it is true that kids tend to be resilient in ways that adults usually are not, these moves can be traumatic for children and have long lasting effects. Nationally, of the kids in foster care in 2012, over 50% had a goal of reunification with parents or principal caretakers.

So the important takeaway here is that there is an inherent value in keeping children with their parents beyond the love and affection they receive there. Kids truly need a stabilized home life with as little interruption as can be afforded, whenever possible. The attorneys of Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC work hard to help families stay together whenever possible.