Current Use of the “Best Interests of the Child” Standard in Foster Care Policy and Practice

Sarah A. Font & Elizabeth T. Gershoff - Foster Care and Best Interests of the Child


This chapter of Foster Care and Best Interests of the Child provides a review and analysis of the “best interests of the child” standard in foster care policy and practice. Specifically, we discuss whether and how the “best interests” standard is applied to decisions about whether children enter foster care, where they are placed, and how they exit foster care. We assess concerns about the subjectivity of the “best interests” standard and provide examples of how policy has created barriers to acting in children’s best interests. In doing so, we highlight the distinction between policies and practices that benefit the typical or average foster child versus decision making that accounts for the needs and circumstances of individual children.