Foster Care

July 20, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 26
Can the system handle soaring demand?
By Kay Nolan


Rebeka Romero hugs her sons Joseph, 8, left, and Travis (Cover: Getty Images/The Denver Post/Helen H. Richardson)
Rebeka Romero hugs her sons Joseph, 8, left, and Travis, 10, after finalizing their adoptions on Nov. 16, 2017, in Denver. Romero and her husband initially raised the boys — along with their sister, Lilly — as foster children. Some child welfare advocates worry that a federal law enacted in February will divert resources from programs designed to find adoptive families for foster children. (Cover: Getty Images/The Denver Post/Helen H. Richardson)

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Child Care
Jul. 20, 2018  Foster Care
May 08, 1998  Child-Care Options
Dec. 17, 1993  Child Care
May 06, 1983  Day-Care Needs
Jun. 14, 1972  Child Care
Jul. 07, 1965  Child Day Care and Working Mothers
Maternal and Child Health Care
Regulation and Deregulation
Substance Abuse