Moving Children Out of Foster Care: The Legislative Role for Finding Permanent Homes for Children
By Nina Williams-Mbengue
Permanency: A Key Concept for Children in Foster Care
Child development experts know that in order for a child to grow up as a healthy, functioning and productive member of society, a sense of a permanent home and family is key. Children thrive in an environment that includes an adult who is committed to their long-term well-being: someone whom they can depend on to take them to school, monitor their grades, attend PTA meetings and sporting events and ask about their friends.
Children benefit from stable, nurturing family lives, positive school environments and networks of caring friends, relatives and neighbors. This network of support can help a child perform well academically, have positive health and mental health outcomes and make it more likely that they will develop good relationship and social skills that can enable them to become successful adults.
However, for children who enter the foster care system because of parental abuse, neglect or abandonment, these critical connections and sense of permanency may be lost from the moment a child is removed from home. The removal itself can be devastating and confusing for children of any age. Once in foster care, many children experience prolonged stays. According to 2006 data from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), of the 289,000 children who exited care during 2006, 51 percent had been in care 12 months or more.
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