Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Foster care. There are probably no two words in the English language that convey more of a sense of good intentions gone bad. Children enter foster care when their own parents fail them. Then they begin a state-sponsored journey through an over- land railroad of foster homes, some run by adults who truly want to help, and others run by scoundrels.'

The purpose of foster care is to provide a temporary safe haven for children whose parents are unable to care for them. Unfortunately, however, the foster care system frequently fails to provide children with stable, secure care, and fails to meet their medical, psychological, and emotional needs. Many children spend the better part of their child- hoods in foster homes, often suffering mental, emotional, and physical abuse at the hands of their state-appointed foster parents. Stories of neglected, battered children and horrible living conditions pervade the case law.

Deteriorating family relationships and systemic flaws within the child welfare system are to blame for foster family abuse and program abuse. Among the interrelated problems merging into the foster crisis are an increased number of foster children, weakened family relation- ships, deteriorating social conditions, overextended and inefficiently managed child welfare agencies, and poor training of case workers and prospective foster parents. These factors have resulted in an ineffective bureaucracy that has lost sight of its purpose-safe temporary care for children in search of a permanent home.

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Family Law Commons