Foster Care as a Problem and a Solution

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 first describes how foster care, intended as a temporary but necessary solution for children who cannot safely remain at home, is increasingly described as a problem in and of itself rather than as a solution to a difficult problem. Specifically, we identify and address the primary criticisms levied against the foster care system by scholars, media, and the public, namely that (1) foster care is overused as an intervention; (2) foster care is harmful to children; and (3) racial and class bias affect decisions about the removal of children. We describe the philosophical frameworks that inform perspectives about foster care and then examine and discuss the empirical evidence pertinent to these arguments. We conclude that, although there are numerous ways in which the quality of the current foster care system could be improved, an objective review of relevant research does not validate the most critical claims about foster care.