Blog Post 2: Why don’t all children have permanent homes?

What I already know:


Television is filled with accounts and representations of the foster care system, as well as foster children themselves.  Television shows I watch, like The Night Shift and New Amsterdam, have both minor and major plot lines surrounding foster care.  Some have positive comments about the foster system, like how it is able to place children with loving families.  But many more detail horrific accounts of abuse and neglect, and portray the foster children as traumatized and broken.  I don’t know much about the foster care system aside from what I’ve seen in fictional television programs, but every so often there are reports on the news of foster parents in prison for abusing the children they took in.  What I’ve been exposed to about the foster care system is depressing, and what I know right now gives the impression that not only are more foster families and parents needed to take in children, but those who decide to foster children must be responsible, loving, and morally-sound people.  


My questions:

  • What leads to a child being placed in the foster system?
  • What percentage of parents with children in the foster system regain custody of their children?
  • What percentage of foster families end up adopting their foster children?
  • How are most families introduced to the foster system?
  • How do families decide they want to become foster families?
  • Can single parents become a foster parent?
  • What is the minimum age for a foster parent?
  • Do foster parents have to be married?
  • How many foster children to families typically take?
  • How often are siblings kept together?
  • Can a sibling of a foster child become their legal guardian?
  • How do foster children get through school if they keep moving from home to home?
  • Do foster children have a higher risk of being abused than children with permanent homes?
  • Do foster children struggle with mental health more than adopted children or children living with their biological parents?
  • What financial requirements do foster families have to meet?
  • Do most foster families already have children?
  • What is the most common age of a child a family will foster?
  • Are teenagers really less likely to be adopted than younger children?
  • Do more teenagers live in group homes than are placed in foster families?
  • How long have most children been in the foster system?
  • Do caseworkers have close relationships with the foster children they are in charge of?
  • What state has the highest number of foster children?
  • What state has the highest need for foster families?
  • How many children are in the foster system in Vermont?
  • What is the need for foster families in Vermont?
  • Do foster children want to be adopted?
  • Do most foster children want to be returned to their parents?
  • Can foster children be adopted if their parents have not passed away?
  • What is the youngest age a child can be fostered?
  • For how long are children typically with foster families?
  • Do children only go into the foster system when they have no other living relatives?
  • To what degree does television accurately represent the lives of foster children?
Kaitlin Emerson

6 Responses to “Blog Post 2: Why don’t all children have permanent homes?

  • Nathan Archambault
    5 years ago


    You certainly have amassed a great deal of difficult but fantastic questions. Foster care in our state has taken an interesting turn in recent years. The numbers have swung from an older population of children to a much younger population in much greater numbers. You are approaching the topic in the best way. The questions you generate will fuel more and more questions. I like where you’re headed. The inclusion of how foster children are portrayed in the media is an interesting angle to take. It has made me think more about the effect this has on those both in and out of foster care.

  • Robin Mary Bebo-Long
    5 years ago

    Your post deals with an issue that we, as a society have been dealing with for a long time. I can only speak as an educator’s perspective. In my experience, most people who become foster parents truly have the kids best interest at heart. I know of several adoptions and one case the adopted parent was a single woman who’s foster son was a 12-year-old boy. They are doing very well together.

    You spoke of the media’s sensationalism of foster care abuse. While I don’t doubt it happens, I don’t believe that it is the norm. I know of one case where the foster parents were ill-equipped to deal with the children’s PTSD (they abandoned the children in a safe place). The entire system works best with adequate support and education. We need to consider the perspective that the majority of children would not be in the system unless they had been subjected to abuse or neglect. Here is a data sheet for Vermont that could put this in perspective. This is an ongoing crisis often paired with substance abuse. I commend you for taking a closer look.

  • Hi Katie,
    Your blog post is super interesting and you ask so many hard questions. I’ve always been interested in learning more about the foster care system in general. It would be super interesting to look at it under a magnifying glass in Vermont to see what the foster care system is like.
    When you give a list of questions I began to wonder if you could find specific answers or if they are more on a case by case basis. But you definitely could look into them more and see if there is a more general answer that is statistic based. Other questions you pose I’m sure have a more general answer here in Vermont.
    Something I want to leave you thinking about: Is there something more particular within the foster care system that you find interesting? Also, what is your opinion about foster care in the media?
    Have a good week,

    • Meredith,

      I definitely believe that the answers to my questions are probably hard to generalize, as every child has a different experience and relationship with their past. I agree that it would be interesting to look at the situation in Vermont specifically, especially because the Vermont Foster Care agency is located right in Saint Albans. I looked at their website, which directed me to the Vermont State Website and the Department of Children and Families section of the website. I was able to get some generalizations about how foster families and parents are needed for a high number of children, but I got more specific statistics by looking at the number of foster homes needed in Vermont’s Franklin County and Grand Isle County. It’s intriguing to me that so many children, 1,300 across Vermont and 200 in these two counties, are in need of local foster homes so that they don’t miss valuable time in school to change homes. I think that’s what I want to focus on; I want to understand how the organization can be actively seeking out families, yet many children are still looking for homes. I want to understand why some people might not want to foster children, and create a persuading project to encourage them to potentially change their minds. Part of why they might not want to become foster families could be the way the children are portrayed in the media. While I can’t really change how television shows and movies influence the issue, I can attempt to educate the community on why foster families are essential for these children.

  • Hi Kaitlin,

    I appreciate the honesty of you sharing that most of your background knowledge comes from fiction and that it may or may not reflect reality. Your questions show me how deeply you have thought about this topic. I wonder if people who have been in the foster care system are willing to share their stories?


    • Hi Liv,

      I considered that option, interviewing the children themselves in the foster care system, and decided that probably isn’t the best way for me to approach the issue. It may be too personal for a lot of the foster children in the system now to talk about their experiences, so I think I’m going to try to concentrate my efforts on understanding how social workers are trying to place children in loving homes and how foster families are both necessary and needed now more than ever across the country as well as in Vermont.

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