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Misuse of Foster Care: When the Desire To Help Children Outruns the Ability To Improve Parental Functioning

NCJ Number
Family Law Quarterly Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1986) Pages: 213-231
D J Besharov
Date Published
18 pages
Because of the cumulative emotional harm foster care can cause a child and because this intervention is so often inappropriately used, child protective services need to reorient their policies, placing a greater emphasis on compensatory services.
Although for many children, foster care may be the only alternative and results in a better quality of care, few foster children receive necessary services. Long periods in foster care can be emotionally scarring, and irreparable harm can be done to bonds of affection and commitment between parent and child. In addition, data indicate that as many as half of the children in foster care are not in danger of serious physical injury if left in the home of biological parents. It is suggested that protective services must make clearer distinctions between situations that are immediately harmful and those that are cumulatively harmful. For the latter, intervention should focus on compensatory services (including quality preschool education) that meet the child's long-term developmental needs. 67 references.