Foster care is a temporary arrangement for children and teens when their parents or primary caregivers are going through a crisis. When youth cannot remain safely in their homes and must enter foster care, the first goal of foster care is to safely reunite them with their families as soon as possible. While several factors can cause a child or teen to enter foster care, abuse and/or neglect are the most common reasons.
When social workers and courts determine that a home is unsafe for a child, child welfare agencies work diligently with the family to resolve the conflicts or disruptions that led to the child needing foster care. Intensive, family-centered services are provided by social workers to make progress towards a safe, supportive family.
How Many Children Get Reunited with Their Families After Being in Foster Care?
The most common outcome for children in foster care is a safe reunification with their families. Nationwide, more than half of youth who enter foster care are safely reunified. The average length of time a child is in foster care is about a year, but much of this is dependent on how long it takes for the family to resolve their conflicts or disruptions and demonstrate that their home is safe for their child to return home.
Types of Foster Care a Child May Enter Before Reunification
While foster care is sometimes necessary to keep a child safe, removing a child from their home can be a traumatic experience in itself because it involves separation. Placing the child with a familiar caregiver helps ease this transition. When a child or teen enters foster care, social workers try to find a temporary home for them with a relative. This is often referred to as kinship care.
If that’s not an option, workers seek out non-related kin. This refers to a person, typically a neighbor, family friend, teacher, coach, fellow church member or other acquaintance, who is familiar with the child or his or her family and is willing to provide a home for the child. In many states, non-related kinship caregivers can receive a temporary license so they can immediately begin caring for the child. If there are no available caregivers who are already familiar to the child, traditional foster care becomes an option. To learn more about the different types of foster care, click here.
Inspiring Story of A Family Safely Reunifying After Foster Care
In this heartwarming story, see how a KVC case manager gives a struggling West Virginia mom hope and a chance to reunify with her baby girl.
How You Can Help
In the West Virginia foster care system, more foster parents are needed than ever before. The most significant way you can help is by becoming a foster parent. We’re especially looking for people willing to care for teens and sibling sets. If you’re interested, we’d love to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process. Click here to contact us!
This questionnaire, How to Know If Foster Parenting Is Right for You, is also a great place to start if you’d like to know more about fostering. Download it for free today!