My county works hard to offer services to families so children don’t need to be removed from their homes. When the county does bring children into care, the social workers try very hard to help parents fix problems so kids can go home. I fully support that and am super glad they focus on helping the whole family.
However, there is something that does bug me.
The social workers regularly talk about how reunification is best for children, even if their home life is not ideal. Then the social workers go on to talk about kids who age out being more likely to serve jail time, be homeless, have drug problems, etc.
Maybe it’s true that reunited kids have better outcomes, but it’s hard to have faith in these statements as there are holes in the logic. Some pieces of the puzzle are missing in the explanations.
When I ask them for the study that proves their statement, they look at me like I’m an alien.
I want to see a scientific study that compares life outcomes of kids who went back to their parents, kids who went to other relatives, kids who were adopted by non-relatives (such as foster parents), and kids who aged out.
Such a scientific study should also look at variables such as the type, severity, and duration of abuse or neglect and see how that impacts outcomes for children who are reunited, adopted, or age out.
My guess is that kids who stayed in care and eventually aged out, suffered more abuse or more severe abuse – and that’s why they didn’t go back home. Kids with more issues are also less likely to be adopted. These two factors would then account for why their outcomes as adults are less ideal – or at least account for it in part.
It only makes sense that if some kids’ life circumstances were less ideal than other foster kids to begin with, that such kids would continue to have more difficulties as adults.
In other words, is reunification what really results in better outcomes? Or is it less trauma that results in better out outcomes, and reunification only looks like the better method because the kids most likely to be reunited are the kids who have experienced less abuse?
Anyway, I would really love to see such a study to better understand what is and is not beneficial for children in care.
So if you know of one, please share!
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