The Prolonged Nightmare

The traumatizing events a child goes through in a foster care system is one that no child should ever experience. The foster care system in the United States is a beaten down system that serves no good purpose to children in need. Children are bought, sold, and killed in this system. I will discuss about what the foster care system is, what it’s like to be living in this system and what we can do to fix the foster care system.

In the mid 19th century, nearly 30,000 children were sleeping on the streets of new york city. Parents had no jobs, no homes nor any close relatives to stay with. A man named Charles Loring Brace could not accept the fact that children were being forced to sleep on the streets and live a life that would ultimately kill them. Brace took these children to a train where they would sleep and be given to families that would care for them. Brace’s idea was soon named as The Orphan Train Movement. Centuries later, this system evolved into what is commonly known as the foster care system but it has forgotten its main purpose. So, how does the foster care system work in modern day society? State agencies like Child Protective Service(CPS) evaluate the safety of each child and decide whether or not the child is living in an abusive or neglectful household. If they believe the child is not safe, the child will be removed from that family. The family would then be placed in court and the judge must agree with the agencies that the child is in danger. An exception is made if there are criminal charges pressed against the child’s guardian(s) and will be immediately taken from the home. These agencies want to keep the child with his or her biological family. CPS fist offers support services to the family such as family therapy, parenting classes, and supervised visits. If the family fails to meet the wanted expectations, the child is finally made a ward of the state and is placed into foster care.

A woman named Molly McGrath Tierney, a former director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Series, spoke about the damages and fears of the foster care industry. An industry that can only survive by taking parents children and damaging them. She explains about the trauma imposing on children, saying “… we’re digging a wound so deep, I don’t believe we have a way of measuring it. This dismantling of families — it has enormous consequences. Kids that grow up outside of families — they don’t master the things that can only be learned in that context, like who to trust, how to love, and how to take care of yourself, and that frankly does more damage than the abuse and neglect…”( If you ever decided that foster care is the only safe place for children with no families, then you are like many americans and governments that do not have a single idea of what it’s like living in this system. Although most children are victims of physical abuse, many social workers mistaken poverty as neglect. Instead of helping the family with their poverty issues, they kidnap their children and avoid helping the parents. A total of 75% of children are removed from their families because of poverty and are now being abused in foster care. These children are forced away from their families simply because their family can’t afford to care for them. This is heartbreaking not just for the children but for the families because they may never see their children again.

A 2015 study show nearly 428,000 children are in the foster care system in the united states. Over 670,000 children have spent time in a United States foster care system. On average, children remain in the foster care system for nearly two year but six percent of those children have remained in foster care for more than five years. A majority of foster care children are white americans but there has been an increase of young colored children entering in the system in 2015.

Allow me to illustrate what it’s like living in the system. Imagine one day, at the age of 7, you are taken from your mother because she could not care for you no longer. At the age of 18, you have been in 35 different homes, had 18 social workers, and your name was changed 4 times. You leave the system with no knowledge of how to live, how to pay taxes, or even how to write a check. You are thrown in a whole new world with rules that are not familiar to you. This is the story of a woman named Lydia Joyner who was a former foster child. In a youtube channel called Thinker, Lydia shared her story and her traumatic experience growing up in a foster care. She states, “foster care is..its almost like a complete different world that is happening among everybody as they’re walking the streets…you get to the point where you’re 18 years old and they say “okay, you’re done” and then you’re out on the streets and it’s over with and you have to learn how to do everything. I couldn’t even write a check. I had no idea how to do that.” The foster care system has had issues with education for the children. These children have no idea what it’s like to live in the outside world. All the things that their parents are suppose to teach then haven’t been taught to them by the system.

An article written by Erica William Simon, a man identified as James told his foster care story. He was placed in the foster care system when he was only one years old. The next 17 years of his life, he was in and out of neglectful and abusive homes. One of his traumatic experiences involved staying with an racist foster father who witnessed james hanging out with an african American boy. The father beat and drugged james outside of his house. He placed a dog collar around james’s neck and cuffed his hand on a confederate flag rail. He left jame outside overnight in the cold of december. The next day, the father threatened to leave james outside for a full week if he was to be seen with the African American boy again. There are thousands of children who have similar stories to james and Lydia’s. Thousands of children who have shared their shattered experiences living in these systems.

Mental health is highly common in foster children. children in foster care are more likely than any other child to experience behavior and emotional problems. They are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, and become are less active in extracurricular activities. Studies showed that almost 60 percent of young children in foster care were at a greater risk of neurological impairment or developmental delay . The most common mental disorder that foster children develop is post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and depression. the graph below illustrate the rate of mental disorder for foster children compared to the general popation. as you can tell, foster children are way more likely to develop many mental disorders than other types of children.

when you hear the words human trafficking, you immediately think of young children in being bought and sold in third world countries, but that is not the case. Human trafficking is an international problem, especially in the united states. For those who do not know what this is, human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery. People are bought or sold into forced labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is commonly found in big U.S. cities like New York. Human traffickers preferred to hit the most vulnerable children, specifically foster care children. The feeling of being loved and wanted from these children is similar to a pot of gold for human traffickers. They want children who have been deprived of basic family needs so that they can feel wanted in the process of being sold to many different people. In 2014, FBI agents rescued children sex trafficking victims. They found children as young as 11 in hotel rooms, truck stops and homes. Many of the children rescued were not reported as missing despite the fact that they are under the care of the states welfare systems.

So, what can we do to stop this for good. I purpose that we start having social workers who know and have experienced being in the foster care system. The main issue with foster care originates to the social workers. A majority of social workers do not care for the child because they do not know what it is like being moved to different home every month, to be sexually molested by foster parents, or what it’s like being bought and sold to different people. Many of these social workers don’t send children to therapy to let the child discuss about their traumatic experiences. If there is a issue with the child being in that specific foster home, the social workers simply send child to another foster home. They don’t care for these children and they are not doing their jobs as social workers. This system needs people who will actually do their jobs and find the safest place to keep these children. If the social worker has a connection with the child, that social worker will truly try their best to keep that child safe.

Another solution is to spread awareness. It is surprising to see that a majority of americans have done absolutely nothing to prevent this system to continue. There has been little to no news about human trafficking or what they foster care reality islike. There have been no protests or commercials about finding a solution for this corrupted system. Its as if the world gave up on these children. The government promised protection but has predominantly failed to do just that. These children are thrown around like a bag of trash that no one wants.

The foster care system is not the best interests for these children. They leave the system more broken than when they entered it. The United States failed to protect these children and now the children are paying the price. If the government can improve the quality of employers who are involved with foster care and if we start spreading awareness about this issue, the system may finally be able to do what it originally was set to do. It may start to actually help children find loving and caring families. These children may finally find peace in this world.