had long referred to various forms of family-based child care, the
meaning of the term narrowed by 1959, when the Child
Welfare League of America issued these authoritative standards.
During the past half-century, foster
care has designated a form of paid family care, offered temporarily
or on an extended basis, to poor children who cannot remain with
their birth parents because
of neglect or abuse. This definition of foster care contrasts sharply
with adoption, a status presumed to involve legal and emotional
permanence as well as financial autonomy. Note also the emphasis
on “casework,” “treatment,” and “personality
development” in this excerpt. These concerns suggest not only
that therapeutic perspectives shaped all child
welfare services, but an acute awareness of the hazards associated
with the conditions that made foster
care necessary in the first place.
Definition of Foster Family Care
Foster family care is the child welfare service which provides
substitute family care for a planned period for a child when his
own family cannot care for him for a temporary or extended period,
and when adoption is neither desirable nor possible.
1.1 Components of foster family care
The distinctive component of foster family care is the development
and use of the foster family home to provide substitute life experiences,
together with casework and other treatment services for both the
child and his parents.
Experiences inherent in family living, which are regarded as
essential in achieving maturity and the ability to initiate and
sustain a family of one’s own, including the following:
• emotional relationships of the child with other members
of the family, relatives and friends
• socialization of child in learning modes of behavior and
expectations of his cultural group
• observation of roles of father and mother, and husband and
wife, which provide models for a home and family
• sharing of responsibility for housekeeping chores, for purchases,
and for management and physical maintenance of a home
• living in a home in a community, making use of community
resources and being part of community groups
Casework with child and parents, beginning with the intake study
and continuing throughout the period of placement, is essential
for formulation, evaluation and appropriate modification of the
plan for the child. Lack of adequate casework and failure to define
and review goals periodically may result in an outcome detrimental
to the child.
Provisions must be made for meeting the normal developmental
needs of children under care, and for treatment of their emotional
problems, including help to their parents with problems associated
with impaired parental functioning. . . .
1.3 Objectives and purpose
The ultimate objectives of foster family care should be the promotion
of healthy personality development of the child, and amelioration
of problems which are personally or socially destructive.
Foster family care is one of society’s ways of assuring
the well-being of children who would otherwise lack adequate parental
care. Society assumes certain responsibilities for rearing and
nurture of children which own parents are unable to carry, and
discharges these responsibilities through the services of social
agencies and other social institutions.
Foster family care should provide, for the child whose own parents
cannot do so, experiences and conditions which promote normal
motivation (care), which prevent further injury to the
child (protection), and which correct specific problems
that interfere with healthy personality development (treatment).
Foster family care should be designed in such a way as
• to maintain and enhance parental functioning to the fullest
• to provide the type of care and services best suited to
each child’s needs
• to minimize and counteract hazards to the child’s
emotional health inherent in separation from his own family and
the conditions leading to it
• to make possible continuity of relationship by preventing
• to facilitate the child’s becoming part of the foster
family, school, peer group and larger community
• to protect the child from harmful experiences
• to bring about his ultimate return to his natural family
whenever desirable and feasible. . . .
Types of Foster Family Care
. . . . 1.10 Free homes
Foster family homes which provide care without financial reimbursement
from the agency, the child or his family, should not be recruited
or used at the outset of a child’s placement.
Free homes should be used only in exceptional instances for
children who have no continuing relationship with their own parents
but cannot be placed for adoption, and when free care is the natural
outgrowth of an established relationship between the child and
foster parents. The relationship of the foster parents with the
agency must be such that the arrangement will permit the agency
to carry out its full continuing responsibility for the child’s
welfare, and will not adversely affect the child’s care. . . .
Agency Responsibility to the Child
3.1 Casework planning
Services should be given on the basis of an individualized plan
for each child, so that he may receive the care and treatment which
meet his particular needs and promote his healthy personality development.
3.2 Care and treatment
The agency should make sure that the child receives the basic units
of care necessary for normal maturation: a normal foster home, medical
and dental care, and opportunities for education, recreation and
religious experiences. Casework and other treatment services for
overcoming problems affecting personality development should be
available as an essential part of foster family care service.
The relation of personality problems in childhood to mental
illness, criminality and dependence in adolescence and adulthood,
and the increasing number of emotionally disturbed children among
those requiring placement, make it imperative to offer treatment
services to every child who needs them.
For children who require treatment for persistent emotional
disturbance and deviations in personality development which foster
family care and casework help alone cannot remedy, the agency
may choose to provide such treatment by qualified caseworkers
on its own staff, through community resources such as child guidance
clinics, or by child psychiatrists in private practice. The choice
should be determined in part by the availability of resources
within and outside the agency, and in part by the resource which
the child can use best.