Disrupting Foster Child Placement
Disrupting Foster Child Placement

When a foster child placement is disrupted, foster parents must consider several factors:

  1. Consider the role of the worker.
  2. Research the factors that increase the risk of disruption.
  3. Determine the best intervention and implement it. 
  4. Decide if it is safe for the foster child and the household to remain together or if displacement is necessary. 

Disruption can be difficult for both the foster child and the family. However, disrupting a foster child's placement may be necessary for the child's and foster family's best interests.

Worker role in disrupting foster child placement

Disrupting Foster Child Placement
Disrupting Foster Child Placement

The disruption of foster child placements can have high human and financial costs. These costs affect children, families, professionals, and agencies. Trauma to the displaced foster child, siblings, and the foster family is costly. Disruptions are also costly for child welfare and non-kinship placements. Foster care workers and other professionals must consider the child's well-being to provide the best care.

In some cases, the disruption of a foster child's placement is preventable. Therefore, the worker's role in preventing such disruptions is crucial and can be resolved through various methods. First, the caseworker must ensure the foster family has all the information about the child. Quite a few times, the foster family is not aware of the specific needs of a child in care, and this can cause lead to disruption in placement. When the foster family is aware of the child's specific needs and agrees to care for them, training and wrap-around services must be established for the foster family and child as soon as possible. Having support and interventions provided will help avoid displacement. Lastly, the caseworker must support the child and the family. Sometimes, the placement does not work, and the caseworker needs to be supportive of a change. 

When disruptions occur, social workers must be flexible and honest with families. They must clarify the reasons for the disruption and help the family interpret the child's behavior and needs. They must also create a mutual problem-solving plan with the family. The worker can also help the parents who may feel discouraged because their child is not progressing. Disruptions affect 95% of foster children. The negative effects of disruptions are well documented (Jonson-Reid & Barth, 2000; Ryan & Testa, 2005). 

Research on individual child factors that increase the risk for disruption

Multiple placements can negatively impact a child's development, and research has uncovered several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of disruption in foster care. For example, children with behavioral or emotional problems are more likely to experience placement disruption than children without such issues. Boys are also more likely to experience disruption than girls, although these studies' results are inconclusive.

These risk factors are associated with poor academic achievement and executive functioning and can contribute to emotional and physical health trauma later in life. They also increase a child's risk of incarceration when they reach adulthood but understanding the dynamics of risk for placement disruption is crucial for the child welfare system.

The increasing amount of children in foster care means the number of possible placement disruptions is rising. Many of these disruptions are due to behavioral problems. These problems can be attributed to multiple factors. One common factor is a child's risk of harming themselves and others.

Other research on foster care has also addressed factors that increase the likelihood of placement disruption. However, the study also found that the child's age at placement is associated with a higher risk of disruption. Additionally, the child's background and behavior problems can increase the likelihood of placement disruption. 

Finally, the study found that certain factors are associated with a higher risk for placement disruption. For example, younger children who entered the foster care system had a greater chance of maintaining placement in their foster home than older children or teens because it can be difficult to find homes willing or able to take older kids in need. 

Determine the best intervention and implement it. 

Therapy for Foster Children
Therapy for Foster Children

Interventions to prevent the displacement of a foster child from a foster home are essential to the well-being and mental health of the child. The federal government provides funding and substantive guidance to states to support these efforts. Ideally, children in foster care would be identified and supported early in life when the chances of reunification are greatest. 

Interventions include high-quality foster homes with trauma training and evidence-based support services. One of the promising factors is social support. Some social interventions include individual and group therapy. Extracurricular activities with children in an age group to observe and model age-appropriate behaviors. Occupational, behavioral, and speech therapy for spatial awareness, model behaviors, and communication needs. Eventually, children will exit the foster care system and enter a permanent home with caring, permanent caregivers who can meet their basic needs, whether the home is through reunification with their biological family or adoptive family. 

The Family First Prevention Services Act requires states to provide comprehensive services to displaced children. These services include placements in traditional family foster homes or qualified residential treatment programs. These services can help a child achieve a higher level of independence and improve the chances of a successful outcome. However, the evidence is mixed, and many youth report needing more support to succeed.

Despite the need for more comprehensive services, many children remain at risk for displacement from foster homes. However, with the proliferation of common-sense strategies, prevention can be possible. Early identification of vulnerable children can prevent their eventual placement in a foster home and help them avoid future health and development challenges.

Decide if It is Safe for the Foster Child and Household to Remain Together or if Displacement is Necessary.

Disruption of Foster Child Placement
Disruption of Foster Child Placement

All of the above factors must be considered when determining if a foster child needs to remain or be removed from a foster home. The disruption can have a long-term impact on the child and the family. When services have been exhausted, and wrap-around services are in place, improvement is usually obtained. However, there are times when all of the support is insufficient to maintain the living situation, usually when it is unsafe for the child or family, and displacement is the only option. 

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