Foster children face a host of issues other kids don’t have to worry about. Foster parents stepping in to help them can best do so by knowing in advance the complications these children will likely face. Virtually all foster children face certain challenges – such as what to do when “aging out” of foster care. Others are specific to particular kids who may face medical obstacles ranging from common ailments to disabilities which would deeply affect any child’s life. By thinking about these things ahead of time, however, foster parents can help guide these children to better outcomes, and arm themselves with knowledge about how to best equip children under their care for the many challenges ahead.
Services Provided to Children Aging Out of Foster Care
The federal government created the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) under Title I of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 to provide funding for states to assist youth (up to age 21) in foster care to make a smoother, more successful transition to adulthood. While the CFCIP sets federal guidelines for states to follow, it doesn’t mandate precisely what states must provide to foster children aging out of the system. As a result, benefits vary widely from state to state.
Foster Children with Disabilities
On any given day, there are more than half a million children and youth in foster care in the United States, and studies suggest that at least one-third have disabilities, ranging from minor developmental delays to significant mental and physical disabilities. Children with disabilities sometimes enter foster care because their parents haven’t received the type or level of support to meet their needs. Unfortunately, once disabled children are placed in foster care, they are more likely than other foster children to experience maltreatment, be inappropriately prescribed psychotropic medications, do poorly in school, be institutionalized, and fail to find a permanent home. Therefore, it’s important that foster parents and caretakers take the time to understand the special needs of a disabled foster child.
Funding Foster Care
The federal government provides funds to states to administer child welfare programs. While the federal government controls foster care operations, it’s the non-profit state licensed organizations that receive the funding. Most federal funding, however, comes from five sources: Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, the Social Services Block Grant, and Temporary Aid to Needy Families, and Medicaid. Because federal regulations require that states provide matching funds to claim reimbursement for most of these programs, federal funding plays a large role in how states and localities spend their own child welfare dollars.
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