The Dangerous Classes: Why is Kinship Care the Hot New Thing?

In my last post, I explained why kinship foster care is the ideal out-of-home placement for children in foster care. The concept of extended families taking care of each other’s children is not new. Even today, millions of children are being raised by their relatives in informal kinship care, where government agencies are never involved. The modern increase in kinship care was a result of legislation intended to alleviate the nation’s decades-long foster home shortage. With their back against the wall, lawmakers are finally supporting the types of policies we should have used all along: placing kids with their families. Why did it take so long?

In this post, I will discuss the history of the Child Welfare System with a focus on socioeconomic class, and how that history impacts our system today. The forerunners of today’s Child Welfare System were right to focus on placing kids with families but were wrong about which families were best. That history helps explain why kinship care has been historically disfavored.

Continue reading “The Dangerous Classes: Why is Kinship Care the Hot New Thing?”

Race Matters- Solutions to Address the Compounding Problem

In my first post I talked about why race matters in the child welfare system. In my second, I narrowed the focus to talk about why race should be considered in foster care placement decisions. I also acknowledged a significant limitation to considering race in placement decisions: the major shortage of foster homes. In this post, I will talk about potential solutions to the problems I discussed. While there are many ways in which I believe the child welfare system can be improved, I am limiting myself to three things that I believe can be done fairly easily in order to address race in placements: use kinship placements as much as possible, recruit more families of color, and provide better training to foster parents involved in transracial placements.

I would also like to recognize that none of these ideas is new or novel in this conversation, but I’m talking about them because they aren’t currently the norm. I believe that they need to be implemented on a much wider scale, and one way to start that process is simply by talking about them and letting people know that, first, there is a problem that needs to be solved, and, second, there are existing solutions that just need more support. Continue reading “Race Matters- Solutions to Address the Compounding Problem”

The Future of ICWA: Unconstitutional or Under-serving?

In my first post, I discussed the history of the cultural and actual genocide against Native Americans as well as the broad and family-specific reasons that the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1976 was enacted. In the second, I talked about the case Brackeen v. Zinke (2018), the federal court case currently in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States, in which the constitutionality of ICWA is in question. I also argued that Brackeen—as well as the controversy surrounding ICWA—is tied to the history of removal of Native American children; the requirements in ICWA federally, statewide, and locally; and the understanding we have of Native American culture specifically and culture generally. As the last two posts have focused on the history and present of ICWA, I will now talk about the future of ICWA and some possible policy and implementation changes we can make in order to make it more accessible, and equitable, to children and families who find themselves subject to its jurisdiction.

First, in order to do that, I will try to answer two remaining questions from my first post:

  1. Why [does ICWA] only [include] federally recognized tribes? §1903(8) clarifies the definition of tribe as only those recognized by the “Secretary” and some Alaskan Native villages.
  2. Should the standards and values of ICWA be extended to all minority children? Should the higher legal standards that ICWA requires and the more active efforts expected of child protective services and social services be mandated for all children in foster care?
Continue reading “The Future of ICWA: Unconstitutional or Under-serving?”

Families and the National Foster Home Shortage

There are not enough foster homes in the United States, and there haven’t been enough for a long time. When I first started researching the state of foster care, I encountered article after article about the national foster home shortage. The takeaway seemed to be this: there is a really serious trend of more kids needing care and fewer foster homes nationwide. While the data does show this to be true, all the articles seem to be missing a pretty crucial piece of information. If there aren’t enough homes, where are the kids going? I reached a lot of dead ends trying to answer this question. What I eventually found is arguably the most important part of this story: the foster home shortage may have eventually led to an increased focus on placing kids with their relatives.

Continue reading “Families and the National Foster Home Shortage”