Being a foster child is traumatic enough. Let’s stop making it worse

Stan Rosenberg - Boston Globe

This opinion piece from the Boston Globe, written by a former foster youth, Stan Rosenberg, describes the ways in which the child welfare system in the US state of Massachusetts often fails foster children. Rosenberg writes about the trauma of family separation for children who are removed from their families for cases of abuse and neglect, and the lack of services to address that trauma. "As someone who grew up as a foster kid," says Rosenberg, "it reminds me that we in Massachusetts separate children from their families every day — more than 9,000 last year. Unlike at the border, we have good reason. The children are almost always victims of neglect or abuse. But make no mistake, just as it is at the border, separation is traumatic." "The vast majority of these kids don’t want to leave," Rosenberg continues. "They love their parents no matter what. Their living conditions are all they’ve ever known, so for them it’s normalcy. When they are taken, they are confused, afraid, hurt and often blaming themselves. They assume they must have done something wrong."

Then the trauma compounds as children continue to be placed in home after home, awaiting a permanent placement. "All the while, mental health assistance is inconsistent at best, nonexistent at worst. We take kids who are often healthy and plunge them into a chaotic system that produces damaged and troubled adults. Nationwide, the percentage of foster kids who obtain a bachelor’s degree is in the single digits. Twenty-five percent will end up incarcerated within two years of leaving the foster system." Rosenberg concludes with a list of recommendations for reducing trauma and improving permanency for young people in care.