Foster Care: The Story of Thousands


Teresa Byrd

Sophomore Chrissy P. (far right) and senior Andrea P. (far left) remained in the foster care system for about three years before being adopted. They are examples to those still in the out-of-home care that there is hope to having a normal family.

A child screams, refusing to to be separated from her father. However, her dad is an addict and unfit to care for her. She will be soon entering the foster care system.

Although this can sound appalling, this is the reality of over 6,000 children in Oklahoma’s foster care system (and nearly 700,000 nationwide).

Foster care has gained recent awareness from Netflix shows like The Fosters, but it has been around since the mid 19th century. Yet, Americans generally are unaware of the families and people involved.

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is a temporary arrangement where children under the age of 18 live with and are taken care by adults who are not their biological parents. Their birth parents could have neglectful, abusive, or unfit to care for their child. The reasons can vary but it is legally determined they are unable to safely and properly care for their children. Children who are removed from their parents’ custody are either placed with a family member or put into emergency custody until they are able to go to a family member. If no family member is able or fit to take care of the child/children, they will be placed with a Department of Human Services (DHS) approved foster parent.

I wholeheartedly believe that all children deserve to be with their biological parents, if and only if, the biological parents can keep them safe,” retired social worker Katie E. said. “Anytime that a child is removed from a home, biological or foster, that child experiences trauma.”

Don’t give up or be embarrassed. I remember when I was embarrassed to where I wouldn’t want to go to school. Just stay strong because like you’ll never know what you’ll become.”

— Former Foster Care Child (anonymous)

Life in Foster Care

Life as a child in foster care custody can be challenging. There are things they have to face that other children do not think about struggling. Conditions can range from law-required therapy and supervised visits with biological parents to not being allowed to have friends over to their current home. Every little thing has to be approved by the foster guardian or social caseworker, such as signing up for a school sport. Recently though, with the ‘Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014,’ the rules have been loosened to give foster children a chance to live a “normal” life, however things can still be difficult. 

“I don’t think that foster kids should have anything less than anyone else,”an anonymous foster child said .”I feel like they actually have more because they’re the tougher people.”

Unfair System?

Today, Americans question how fair the foster care system really is, believing that the system is broken and should be reformed. Many platforms and organizations, such as the Children’s Rights organization, have come out with works highlighting the broken system. They claim that as society advances, the rules and guidelines should as well, to secure the children entering the system are properly taken care of and the parents have their best interest in the child. Also, according to the Family & Youth Initiative, younger kids are favored by potential foster parents while sibling groups and teenagers are found less desirable.

“I have advocated so hard for these kids that I have spent many nights crying that I didn’t know what else to do. In my opinion the system can sometimes seem unfair,”  an anonymous foster parent said. “I honestly believe there are rules in place that need to be updated and that there are sometimes too many rules and regulations and sometimes not enough.”

2017 reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service show an increase in kids entering foster care.  Although, there is nothing to truly do to stop that, there are ways to make sure these kids end up in loving homes and futures. 

Foster Kids at Westmoore

Foster care is a reality for some Westmoore students and their host families. In reference of Child Welfare Information Gateway, their identities are kept private and protected as a right. Although they have their own struggles different from other students still with their parents, it is their character and talents that define them.

Foster care will continue exist. However, it is only a chapter in the stories of thousand kids in the system.