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Foster Care

- July 20, 2018
Can the system handle soaring demand?
Featured Report

Increasing demand for foster care and adoption services is overwhelming state and private child-placement agencies across the country, a trend stemming largely from parental opioid abuse that has shattered families and orphaned thousands of children. Overworked caseworkers are boarding children in hotels, state offices and even cars while they scramble to find homes for them, even as many states cut spending on programs that benefit children and families. Meanwhile, many child welfare caseworkers and foster parents are leaving the system, citing work-related stress and the strains of caring for young victims of abuse or neglect. Some child welfare experts see hope in a new federal law that prioritizes programs aimed at keeping families together, but others worry the law will divert resources from foster care services for children with behavioral problems. At the same time, some tax-supported, faith-based child welfare agencies have refused to place children with prospective LGBT foster or adoptive parents, igniting a bitter cultural debate and legal battles over religious rights.

Dangerous Conditions

The opioid crisis has overburdened the foster care system.

Emotional Trauma

Child welfare workers are seeking unconventional family homes.

Caseworker Turnover

Foster care suffers from low retention.

Fewer Group Homes

Critics say congregate care is a less supportive environment.

1600s–1800sSociety puts poor children to work, and the beginnings of the American foster care system take root.
1910s–1970sFoster care system expands.
1980s–1990sFunding for foster care improves.
2000–PresentCongress revises foster care laws.

Are children placed in foster care too often in response to the opioid crisis?


Dr. Mishka Terplan
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry, and Associate Director in Addiction Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University.


Danielle M. Skestos
Attorney specializing in adoption law, Isaac Wiles law firm, Columbus, Ohio.


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