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.

One thought on “Foster Care System History 1960s – 1970s

  1. 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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