Underfunded and overburdened foster care systems are bracing for new strains if the Roe v. Wade decision sends more children their way. On any given day, approximately 424,000 children in foster care face placement shortages, low high school graduation rates, and disproportionately high rates of incarceration and homelessness. Without new funding and accountability, these issues may worsen.
Children are sleeping in hotels in some states. In others, they are moved from bed to bed in temporary housing, giving them little sense of security. While adoption is an option, the National Foster Youth Institute estimates that one in every four adoptions fail and a child is returned to the foster care system. Foster care is also not a perfect situation for any child. According to the Institution, people who spend time in the foster care system frequently suffer long-term consequences. Only 55% complete high school, nearly half are homeless, and 30% have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Fostered youth are also more likely to be sex trafficked. According to the Institute, they have twice the rate of teen pregnancy as the general population, creating a cycle of children who are likely to enter the foster care system.
According to a 2008 Duke University study, in the years following Roe, regions with more restrictive anti-abortion legislation, such as parental consent laws, resulted in more children being born into families who could not care for them. Another recent study from 2017 discovered that, while the majority of people would choose to try to raise their child if they did not have access to abortion, an estimated 9% would place their child for adoption.
According to the UNC School of Social Work, 4,544 children entered Child Welfare Custody in North Carolina during the 2020-21 fiscal year. Of those, 38% were placed in foster care, with the majority of the children still in the system. Locally, the New Hanover County Department of Health and Human Services provides foster care to approximately 300 children and teenagers. According to an emailed statement from Brian Bocnuk, the department's permanency planning manager, the department has hired additional social workers to alleviate caseloads and ensure quality care for children. The department, on the other hand, is always looking for more foster families who can provide a stable and consistent home until a child is adopted or reunited with their family.
As recently as last year, the Texas foster care system was accused of physical and sexual abuse, as well as human trafficking. There is also an urgent need for more foster care families to accept children. In Texas, there are currently 6,025 children in need of adoption. A bleak Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) report provided to lawmakers and obtained by the Texas Tribune in April 2022 revealed that more than 100 children had died in the state's child welfare system since 2020. According to the report, 44 children died in 2020 and 38 died in 2021 while in the care of the state. A federal court hearing on the ongoing issues of children's safety in Texas' foster care system was held in September 2021. Due to the state's inability to find licensed agencies to care for them during the first half of 2021, 501 children spent at least one night in their case workers' offices or in hotel rooms.
As a result, the current strain on the foster care system is palpable. While adoption has long been promoted as a positive alternative to abortion, the long-term effects of the foster care system on children are unfavourable. Foster care advocates and experts across the country agree that systems are overwhelmed by the number of children in their care. Child welfare advocates are concerned about an expanding foster-to-prison pipeline. Children may end up in foster care because their parents cannot afford to keep them or are unable to care for them safely. Some women who are forced to carry a pregnancy to term may not give up the child for adoption at birth but are later forced to do so.
Hoover, S. (2022, June 30). What if every abortion was born? how abortion ruling could impact North Carolina Foster Care. News. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.starnewsonline.com/story/news/2022/06/30/north-carolina-how-abortion-ruling-could-impact-foster-care-system/7625499001/
Contreras, R. (2022, July 5). Post-roe abortion access limits could overwhelm U.S. Foster Care Systems. Axios. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.axios.com/2022/07/05/roe-wade-abortion-foster-care-children
wfaa.com, A. (2022, June 24). How will the Texas foster care system be impacted amid the overturning of Roe v. Wade? wfaa.com. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/local/texas/roe-v-wade-texas-foster-system-impact/287-b0332740-039e-484c-843e-523856e4af2c