A child welfare system is a group of services that meant to promote the well-being of the child by providing a safe place for them to live, encouraging family reunification, and helping them achieve and maintain permanent homes. The goals are simple. Provide the right services suited for that specific child to help them succeed outside of the foster care system. The problem is, it doesn’t work. I don’t know what the problem is, but I feel like in my experience, I may have figured it out, to some extent. I do believe the system, when applied correctly, can definitely work. By following the goals set in place for a child, I have seen success. But with each success, there are 10 failures. And by failures, I mean kids who age out of the welfare system with the zero independent life skills who end up homeless. As staff working for specific agencies, we are told to be “Trauma-Informed” and to basically ignore bad behaviors and use our Trauma-Informed Care Training to deal with such outbursts. Well, excuse me, but having an older teen/young adult screaming in our faces, name-calling, and throwing tantrums, and allowing the behavior without consequence is doing nothing but a disservice to these kids. They grow up in the system, with a sense of entitlement because the child welfare system says we can punish them in any way. Now, I don’t mean physically punish them the way our parents might have with spankings, but by taking away privileges. I understand, we are not their parents, but they are children, and they need guidance.
What are we here for if we aren’t allowed to show them that their behaviors have real-life consequences? What good is all of these fantastic programs put in place for them if these kids aren’t even taught that their demanding behaviors aren’t okay? A lot of these kids, if not all, have endured some kind of trauma. So why aren’t these kids made to address their mental health? The foster system creates entitled, dependent young adults. As a social worker, I try my hardest to work with the youth and provide some kind of guidance and what little discipline I can. These kids need to be taught how to be responsible, independent, respectable young adults, and the foster system is lacking in that ability. When these young adults age out of the system, they don’t have the proper education or independent living skills. The foster system does not work the way it is designed because of the youth lack discipline. What is the point of all these independent living facilities if these kids aren’t being taught independent living skills, how to behave appropriately, or merely being disciplined for poor behavior? Save the whole sob story about their trauma and blah, blah, blah. Real-life doesn’t care about that. Sorry folks. If you are a social worker and agree, please don’t let the youth age out without any safety nets, leaving them to struggle. It hurts them and society as a whole.
Side note, hire people with experience, please, not just anyone off the street with a clean record! This job is not for everyone, and hiring just anyone also contributes to the failures in the foster care system.