07 Mar Foster Homes—Option or Compulsion? (Part 1)
Abuse of Law?
Well, it happens everywhere whether we talk about developed, developing or third world countries. Legislators enact laws with some designated purpose which, unfortunately, gets defeated over a period of time. Very few victims finally get to reap the benefits of such legislations and most of the time it is the manipulative segment which gets to twist the provisions of law to their benefit. We saw this happening in case of Dowry Prohibition Act (India) enacted primarily to prevent crime against women but soon enough it opened flood gates for litigation filed on false and fabricated grounds. A direct consequence of such falsely framed cases has been the change in attitude (from sympathetic to ruthless and discourteous) of the investigating officers, authorized to handle cases in Crime Against Women (CAW) cells. The situation has deteriorated to an extent that even a genuine case is viewed with suspicion as it has become almost impossible, for the authorities, to sift wheat from the chaff.
Interestingly I found the same situation prevailing in United States in respect of Child Services / Protection Law. The legislators devised a concept of ‘Foster Homes’ for the minor kids who, for some unexpected reasons, get alienated from their biological parents / families and are taken in the state custody where they are temporarily placed in Foster Homes till some permanent solution is found for such children. The state authorities try to work out one of the three best suitable and possible options for the kids and those options are:
Need of having Foster Homes
a) A child might be placed in temporary foster care with an intention of reuniting him with his biological family or other family which might be willing to adopt the kid and give him a suitable environment for living. It may include cases where children are handed over to their grandparents or other relatives temporarily or permanently as the situation demands.
b) A parent may voluntarily allow his / her child to be placed in foster care either for economic reasons, behavioral problems of the child for which he might need specialized care and treatment or due to the inability of the parent to raise the child on account of his own mental or physical disorders which includes drug addiction cases also. The child, in such a case, may temporarily be placed in foster care until the parent is capable of shouldering the responsibility.
c) The child may be removed from the custody of his natural guardian or caretaker for the reason of the child’s own safety and security. The state finds out a suitable foster home for such a child and gives some fixed monetary allowance to the foster parents for meeting the child’s needs. The amount varies from state to state.
Foster Homes—Homes for Shelter of Abuse?
We keep reading in newspapers, almost every day, about the hair-raising incidents of crime against foster children. As per records, about 50 children died in the foster care in Texas in 2005 which meant the death date of jumped from 25% to 60% from 2003 to 2005. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning, 63 children were reported as rape victims (including 4 year old twins) and even worse, 145 children were admitted in medical facilities as premature pregnancy cases. Based on a report tendered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as of January 2008, more than 500,000 children are living in foster care across the country. As per the future statistics laid out in the report, about 20,000 children attained the age of majority and were supposed to leave the foster care system. This picture is even scarier. One can only imagine the kind of breed that exits out of this system – a system which does not offer any stability (psychological) to these children while they are a part of it and no security when they are out of it. Most of them find themselves literally on the roads having nowhere to go. No wonder the crime files have records of criminals who have, at some point of time in their lives, lived in foster homes. The worst occurs in cases where children keep shuttling between one foster home to the other. One can only imagine the trauma and psychological distress, they undergo while being tossed from one parent to the other without having a clue where they would end up finally. It’s not hard to understand how some of these children grow up into ‘suicidal bombs’ ready to destroy the first thing they come across; the pent up anger soon turns in to vindictiveness and burns everything around. I guess there should be a few lucky ones who get a decent home to live in and loving parents who adopt them finally. Exceptions can never be a rule, though.
To be contd next week…