Ironies of the Foster Care System: Safety and Stigma
Mason Jones ’20, Santa Maria, California
Minor: Law and Justice
There has been little qualitative sociological research that focuses on how foster care workers view the system that they are working in. The study made use of in depth interviews of foster care workers to gauge the degree to which foster care workers see the system as over reliant on bureaucracy and a moral conceptual system that focuses on authority, discipline, and punishment. The interviews demonstrated that the foster care workers expressed recognition for the need for bureaucracy and rules to keep children safe. However, they also reported several examples of how too much bureaucracy leads to increased stigma for children in the system. Workers called for a more balanced approach focusing on nurturance as well as discipline. Workers concluded that one way of doing this is to build upon the “Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard,” allowing older youth who gain more autonomy within the system to have more opportunities for age and developmentally-appropriate activities and experiences that allow children and youth to grow.