Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

Attachment Issues:  Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

Changes in Foster Care System History 1960s-1970s: Bonding Between Foster Children & Foster ParentsThe idea of what the relationship between foster children and foster parents should be evolved during this crucial time in foster care system history. Bonding between foster parents and foster children was beginning to be encouraged, rather than discouraged. In some cases, this led to fewer moves for children in foster care and greater stability.

(Reprinted from the New Jersey Foster Parents Association’s (now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services, or FAFS) twentieth anniversary program.)

Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s – Keep It Moving

In 1963, the agency known as the State Board of Child Welfare became the Bureau of Children’s Services. In 1972, it became the Division of Youth and Family Services (now known as the Division of Child Placement and Permanency, or DCP&P).

As the agency grew and changed, some of its practices failed to keep pace with the developing philosophy of permanency planning. For instance, many social workers regularly moved children from one foster home to another to avoid having foster parents and foster children become too attached — in other words, to avoid what today is called “bonding” (and is encouraged). And many social workers excluded foster parents from every aspect of planning for the child’s future.

Fortunately, in the early 1970s, there were some social workers who had a different notion about the role of foster parents in a child’s life, and word of this modern attitude began to travel through the loosely-knit foster parent network.

More and more foster parents came to believe that someone must speak out on behalf of foster children, and if not for foster parents, then who?

This conviction led to the founding of the New Jersey Foster Parent Association, now known as Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) in 1974, one of the most significant milestones in foster care system history in NJ in the 1970s.

23 thoughts on “Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

  1. Do you seek only stories of very bad situations? I was placed in foster care in Ohio, in 1951, at age 2. Maybe I won the foster care lottery, but I have only good things to say about my own experience. I hears sad stories of many others, including my own bio siblings. I was loved and well provided for, and remained in the same home even after I aged out of foster care. I completed a BA though my foster parents did not support that choice. Their reason was not because I was a foster child, but more a part of their own cultural attitudes. I remained very close to my foster parents and their only biological child until their deaths. My foster mother required care for the last 8 years of her life. While her bio daughter lived with her, and hired caregivers, I had the blessing of caring for her on Saturdays when I was not at work. Those days served to draw me closer to her. I still am close to the other foster children who lived there.

  2. I too am a product of Foster care in that era; it has been a struggle. However, I decided to turn it around. I am in my sixty, in much debt, but I have two Bachelor’s degrees. I am now going for my Master’s in Counseling. I was beaten severely, raped, no one wanted us, and no one cared. We were there for the check, nothing more. After all these years, I would hope for a change, but, I continue to hear horror stories about the system. It is sad, but many times true, children deserve much better.

  3. David on May 17, 2016 at 11:16 pm said:
    I was brought up in a foster home in the early 60’s to early 70’s, as a male child I was physically abused, and the girls raped!!! We thought the was the way of the world as we were told we were there because nobody wanted us… Well I am 57, been through 2 marriages and many relationships, I am an alcoholic, cant hold a job, because I was told I would never amount to anything, I hear all the stories on our aboriginal foster kids who had it so tough, let me tell you I could tell you true stories that would f’k up your head, compared to them.. And what do I do?? I don’t know, I may go to jail in June because I Am fk’d up from that sh’t.. Never had true guidance, don’t know how to cope, Tried. always fell on my face, I get up but I keep falling down. So who the hell can help me?? Nobody cause nobody cares, There I said my piece, I hope somebody reads this because I have just about had it with all the nightmares even to this day.

    I’m so sorry for what David went through. My story is the same. My foster parents abused me and my older brother. My foster mother once cut up class pictures in front of me and told me I was never going to be anything. Someone please contact me.

  4. I was sexually abused by my goster parents only birth son. It went on from age 5 to age 12. It messed me up do so bad that i even went as far as to blame myself. Well, anyways, my foster mom kept a ledger with all the income she was making on each one of us 9 children. Beats the hell out of me how she got Foster Parent of the freaking year in the 60’s i cant tell you everything i feel. Thats for my therapist. But I also went thru drugs and alcohol dependency. That ended just 4 years ago. Im 60. Its been on and off since my 20’s im good now. Got a great hubby and 2 gorgeous daughters. Normal life now. But i suffer with PTSD,DEPRESSION,ANXIETY AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY. THATS ALL TAKEN CARE OF WITH DRUGS….YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I too spent 5 years in a foster home ,three different ones it was horrible and I never felt safe or loved ,I’m 54 now and though those days seem unreal I still trying to adjust and find safe harbor

  6. I was put into foster care in Clearwater,FL at 10 years old because my father and step-mum didn’t want me around anymore and I’ll never forget my foster mum and her bio child,her child would bite me as hard as she could on my arm and her mum would do nothing about it,I was shoved outside and forced to stay out all day long,my lunch consisted of a bologna sandwich with butter on one side and catsup on the other slice,I always went hungry because I would not eat it,one time I had to go #2 and there was no toilet paper in the bathroom so I used my panties to wipe myself and then threw them in the garbage and when my foster mum found them she chased me through her house beating me on my head with the broom stick,I hated her for that and ran away until finally I was put in a Girls Camp (E-Nini-Hassee) in Brooksville,FL and I loved it there,the foster system since has gotten 10 times worse when it comes to abusing children.

  7. Hi I was taken from my mom when I was about 18mo was put in foster care my father was in the air force he was over seas when I was taken I rember a couple of the homes sort of I remember being locked in the kitchen with the lights out and door shut I always thought it WS a dream until my grand parents came to visit then I was sent to another home I was told my mom put Mr u
    a foadoption I eventually went back t my mom because she marriad the man who raised m my mother said for many years u really don’t remember what happened t you she said she was glad it was really bad why don’t I rember any thing my mom didn’t really like m I have 3other sibling half my question is what could have happened why I don’t remember my life has been diskibauled my whole I’m a good person honest so why do I let bull happen t m I have 2kids5grandkids I still feel lost we are a very happy family but I have a hole in my heart I can’t let this thing that my mom was putting me up for adoption I need to get over it having a hard time

  8. I was in Foster care in Scitaute Ma. from 1964 until about 1969. I was abused, forced to fight other foster kids, negelected, locked in a dirt cellar for sometimes several nights, or in a dark closet without any light for days. Neglect was worse than abuse because at least you had physical contact when abused. I was told nobody wanted me; I was worthless, and nobody would care if I died. I told the social worker, but she said they had no where else to put me. Being beaten all the time I finally acted out. I accidently stabbed a girl at school with a penil. Then they put me in an orphanage where they warehoused unwanted kids. There were rapes and beating in there too. Somehow I beat the odds and survved. I will never forget that witch foster mother. She would sit on the toilet, make me stand in front of her and strip naked. Then I had to eat an entire bar of soap. My throat would swell almost shut. These are only the highlights of a hellish childhood. By force of will and disdain for Mass. I joined the military and raised a family. I now have a grandson. I never, ever, abandned my kids, or my grandson. I despise foster care.

  9. I was put into a foster home when I was 3 months old and the family adopted me when I was 5 years old back when the foster parent was not suppose to. I have a brother and sister in that family and I had 2 sisters and 3 brothers in my real family. I have met my real parents one sister two of my brothers and have talked to the others. I was really attached to the other foster kids that my parents took in. I would really like to find them for their sakes they are getting up in years and my mother wants me to find them. I don’t know where to turn.

  10. well I’m 16 years old and i am in foster care now and going to be in foster till I’m 18 years been in it since 2011 i was adopted by my step grandma and my biological grandpa at the age of 18 months and lived there for 11 years my grandma passed away from cancer in 2010 he was physically and emotionaland sexully abusive towards me and my sister ivy mccullough when he died i felt a huge burrden off my shoulders but at the same time i loved him cause he took me in and adopted me when i needed a home.when he died my mom drank before he died but after his death it changed her she drank more and smoked weed and meth she became more abusive she would lock us in my room and not let us out for days at a time she would telll us she new she abused us but she just couldent help it but a year after my grandpa died the same day he passed away we were taken away by dhs and put with my grandma sue she took care of us for a couple years and then we went into foster care i love my foster mom shes my first foster home and hopefully the last my sister wasent so lucky the first time she had a foster home the parents told one of the foster girls to beat up ivy and they banged ivys head into a refrigeuater door but she is with a good foster parent now and is happy well foster care ig has changed over the years

  11. I was brought up in a foster home in the early 60’s to early 70’s, as a male child I was physically abused, and the girls raped!!! We thought the was the way of the world as we were told we were there because nobody wanted us… Well I am 57, been through 2 marriages and many relationships, I am an alcoholic, cant hold a job, because I was told I would never amount to anything, I hear all the stories on our aboriginal foster kids who had it so tough, let me tell you I could tell you true stories that would f’k up your head, compared to them.. And what do I do?? I don’t know, I may go to jail in June because I Am fk’d up from that sh’t.. Never had true guidance, don’t know how to cope, Tried. always fell on my face, I get up but I keep falling down. So who the hell can help me?? Nobody cause nobody cares, There I said my piece, I hope somebody reads this because I have just about had it with all the nightmares even to this day

    • Jesus can help you. I can’t say I understand what you’ve gone through or what you are going through now, but I do know Jesus knows what it’s like to have the world that should have loved you hurt you instead.

    • David. I feel your pain. I went through the same thing in the 1960s in Ma. I have succesfully raised a family despite horrible abuse and neglect growing up in foster care. Your situation sounds identical to mine. I also struggle with functioning, holding jobs, alcohol, and the like. I internalize most of the pain because I don’t ever want to hurt my family the way I was hurt. I managed a brief military and civil service career totaling 32 years fixing military aircraft. But once that was over I am cluless as to what else to do. I have trouble doing mundane jobs. I am restless. I stay home now on disablity and care for my grandson while his mom and dad work. At least I’ve been able to teach him a lot of things. God bless. You are not alone.

    • David I really hope that this message finds you well and soon. I am creating an alliance for foster children that want to speak out about ways to improve the systems. I hope that we can join forces so that we can tell our stories and help other children that are in care as well. In doing so I hope that we can achieve change in writing within the system…millions of dollars are funded to keep children in care…..let’s raise funding for after care…if you have any ideas please e-mail me at with constant tips…services such as the ones below that may be positive in a foster child’s life and so forth…..

    • I was diagnose with kidney nephritis@ 11. Told get OT of the house by 12 frm grmother to mother..long story short. Im 55 now 3 rd transplant… 4 adopted kids…my own house 2nd…mom dead so called father dead..2 brther dead sis brain damage. I go on. Worked long all my life.. Stop cry babying and stand up like a man. FUck your passed live for yourself.

    • I am so sorry David. I was n foster care too in about the 1980’s. I want to tell you I care about you and your story. Hang in there and don’t ever give up. Your life matters.

    • I understand your feelings. I too was brought up in foster home and the parents were ok but criticism and sexual abuse was rampant and I too have sexual problems, f feelings of worthlessness, alcohol,etc. My birth mom was not open and honest and that kills me though she’s dead now. My life is a mess though I worked hard to do better but I fail and no, no one gives a dammm that is a fact. I’m lonely and I raised my three sons and they are so ungrateful, hateful and often disgusts me. I now care for my grandkid and not the parents care, HOW SAD!!!! I feel death would be my friend, were I too just die. Not kill myself but die of a natural cause!!!

    • So sad yeah I was in a foster home also and abused in there in the early 70s I was very small forced to eat my poop if I pooped my pants they would take me and my sister on long road trips and no bathroom breaks by the time we got back I had already gone in my pants and I used to cry and plea. That I was sorry I dident mean it but the foster parent would make my eat what ever fell out of my pants and yes I have been messed up from it I have depression and nightmares I can’t control my pain nor my can my sister .I was only 6 years old at the time I’m 50 yrs old today. I never feel normal I’ve had a hard life i dont get to close to people meaning i have no friends and relatives died i still have my dad’s in prison my mother died in 2016.i wish I knew where this foster home is I don’t remember that

    • David I really here u my sister’s and I were also in foster home early 60s and 70 when I graduated in1976 from high school. We got hit alot with the belt and for me being the oldest molested alot. Said the same things to as they did u messed up my mind alot nobody to protect us back then they said shhhhh it’s a secret also thought it was normal I survived everything even graduated
      Because I was determined to prove them all wrong.

  12. Lisa, Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story….Although I grew up in a loving home with my birth parents, I had a dear friend who was a foster child in a home that I now realize was abusive. She was often bullied and humiliated at school. Some of that was her foster mother’s fault. I wish I could re-wind and take her into our family….I lost contact with her after grade 8 when her foster mother no longer wanted her and haven’t been able to find her since. I hope more people read your story and really hear it….Thanks again and may you know the love of God and family always. Marnie

  13. I was a foster child in the 60s and 70s but bonding was not encouraged between foster child and foster parent because 18 months was about the limit that a foster child would be staying in any one home. I was one of the lucky ones. I had only 5 foster placements from the ages of 5-18. My younger brother had ??? I don’t even really know how many placements. Today I am educated, successful, raised a family and have been married for 30 years. My younger brother is lost, drifting, waiting for a disability claim to come through and homeless. The NC foster care system did not serve us well. I may have some success in life but every step of the way has been extremely hard, riddled with depression, insecurity, self-doubt, lack of family support, and feeling so lost and unwanted at times. How could people in the 60s and 70s not think that kids needed counseling and support to cope with the constant change and interruption in their lives, the loss of parents, siblings, and stability…I always felt like a throw away child, something to be dealt with and then forgot about. To pick up a child from its home and drop that child off at a complete stranger’s home, for me now, having a child of my own, is inconceivable. The trauma a child deals with each and every time they are picked up and placed in a new home is unimaginable to the ordinary person. The insecurity this creates, the hollowness this creates, the hopelessness this creates, I don’t even have words to describe all of the feelings and psychic changes that are experienced by children who live their lives this way year after year after year, until they no longer receive a check from the state and are turned out on the streets to survive. I don’t have all of the answers to the questions of how to best serve the many children in foster care but I do know that children have to get permanency in a more timely manner, dragging out the process, giving the biological parents time to clean up their act while the whole time the children are waiting in limbo, shuffled about, and getting older with each passing year and less adoptable with each passing year. Time is of the most important element when discussing the subject. Children can not linger in the foster care system, waiting for their parents to have every opportunity to get their lives together, only for the children years down the road falling through the cracks of the foster care system because society thinks and feels the parents deserve every opportunity to get their lives together and get their children back. My parents didn’t deserve me. They didn’t deserve the numerous chances they were given to get their lives together in order to get me back. While they were given every benefit of the doubt that they could overcome their problems, I as well as my siblings were drifting through the foster care system waiting and waiting until our 18th birthday came and we no longer qualified for a check and we were turned loose to fend for ourselves the best way we could.

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