What Youth Need

Now that we have discussed how the basic needs of children include love, protection, a sense of nurturing and belonging, stability, and support, how do we ensure that youth within the foster care system are provided with these staples so they need not seek them from outside influences such as gangs? In this post, I will talk about how community-based services can help minimize and hopefully prevent gang involvement for youth within the foster care system, as well as ways in which we, as members of the community, may be able to provide these children with some sense of stability and consistency while they are in the chaos that is currently the foster care system.

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Youth within the Foster Care System Don’t Have “Families”

Families are the cornerstone of America’s social fabric. They are also the foundation for human development. Maslow’s hierarchy is a theory that people have a five-tier hierarchical set of needs: physiological needs, a need for safety, a need for love and belonging, a need for self-esteem, and a need for self-actualization. The family as a unit tends to create positive outcomes in almost all aspects of a child’s life because a family typically provides stability, love, comfort, support, protection, and a sense of belonging, along with so many other basic necessities that are essential to the overall development of a child. Although many children, especially children who are involved with the foster care system, emerge from what society considers “chaotic” families, those families still provide some sense of comfort and foundation for the child

Because children in the foster care system live apart from their biological parents, there is often times a disruption in their development of attachment and sense of belonging to their biological family, which occurs while they are trying to form new relations with their caregivers in the foster care system. If a child is provided with a secure and nurturing environment, he or she is capable of making positive developments; however, if the child is unable to find that security and comfort in at least one of their adult caregivers, he or she may begin to seek out and form attachments to undesirable social influences, such as gangs.

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Race Matters- Let’s Consider It

As I argued in my first post, race matters when making decisions in the foster care system. Children of color are overrepresented in the system and have poorer outcomes. I also discussed how this is likely tied to the ideas of the white savior complex and implicit biases. One way that I believe we can combat some of the negative impacts of implicit biases and the white savior complex is to consider race and culture in children’s foster care placements. In this post, I’ll discuss why it’s important for race to be considered in placement decisions, and what is currently being done–and not being done–to consider race. I’ll conclude with how I believe race should be considered and the current limitations of racial considerations.

Who makes the decisions about race and culture?

Parents make all kinds of decisions related to their child’s upbringing; they make decisions about their education, what kind of religious upbringing they may have, what kind of food they eat, whether or not they can have sleepovers, what time curfew will be, etc. Included in these decisions are choices parents make related to what culture the child will be raised in, and how the parents will tackle the issue of race with their child. Many of us may take for granted that parents are allowed to make all of these decisions for their child, because to do so is a legal right. The Supreme Court held in Meyer v. State of Nebraska (1923), that parents have the fundamental right to control the upbringing of their children as they see fit. Continue reading “Race Matters- Let’s Consider It”