Children in foster care: a vulnerable population at risk

J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2008 May;21(2):70-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6171.2008.00134.x.


Topic: Nationally, 542,000 children are in foster care. Many of these children have prior histories of maltreatment such as abuse and neglect, with neglect being the most common form of maltreatment and the reason for many children requiring foster care services. Painful experiences associated with maltreatment and the trauma of being removed from one's parents (foster care) may affect the developmental and mental health of children.

Purpose: This paper synthesizes the experiences associated with foster care and reveals foster care outcomes obtained through a literature search of published research. Specifically, the notions of oppression and domination defined by Young (1990) experienced by children in foster are explored.

Sources: Review of the literature and clinical practice.

Conclusions: Most children in foster care, if not all, experience feelings of confusion, fear, apprehension of the unknown, loss, sadness, anxiety, and stress. Such feelings and experiences must be addressed and treated early to prevent or decrease poor developmental and mental health outcomes that ultimately affect a child's educational experience and the quality of adulthood. Systemic orientation for all children entering foster care is proposed as a preventative intervention that addresses associated experiences of children in foster care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Foster Home Care / organization & administration*
  • Foster Home Care / psychology*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • United States
  • Vulnerable Populations*