PAGE Orphanages in PAGE 5 FILENAME orphanages
Orphanages in the United StatesAn Option to Reconsider in the Welfare SystemDiane FlanaganUniversity of PhoenixAre the children in foster homes being cared for as well as we would like them to be?We have children that are being lost in the welfare system because we do not haveenough social workers to handle the caseloads of children in their care; social workers who do not have the time to visit or assess the homes we put our children in and the care they are receiving. Are there other means of care along with foster homes we can look at to help these children? A place where social workers could visit more than one or two children in a single day? Somewhere our children can get a good education, meals, clothing, discipline, supervision, friends, and still feel like it is a place they belong. One of the alternatives to look at is the reestablishment of the orphanage, (or as they are now called group homes) a "home" like no other but still a place to call home.Our Welfare System is suffering a shortage of good foster homes in the United Statesand it may be time to look at revisiting orphanages as a means to help our children. "In1994, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich ignited a firestorm by suggesting that orphanages are better for poor children than life with a mother on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)." (McLaughlin 1998, p 1). Gingrich received much criticism for the suggestion and the idea of bringing back orphanages was dropped and hasn't seen much light of day since. This study will try to show why orphanages should be looked at as an option in conjunction with the foster care system to house our children in need.Looking at the Foster Care system in the United States, we must realize that caseworkers are overburdened with the amount of children in foster care. As of 2002, there were approximately 532,000 children in the foster care system (see table 1) with the majority of those being 6-15 year olds. The recommended average caseload for one caseworker is 17 active families Child Welfare League of America (1999). Looking at this recommendation, it is no wonder that our children can not be supervised the way they should be and so many of them fall through the cracks. Having 17 active families under one caseworker's care can be a daunting assignment. How often can they possibly see each child under their care? A social worker may see their charges once a month if they do not have to be in court or writing assessments or undergoing training. There are no statistics about the number of children in foster homes that have been abused or even killed. The statistics for fatalities are reserved for children who have been abused or neglected in their own families and then taken into foster care. The foster care system does not want the public to know how many children in foster care are being abused in those foster homes. The only time we hear about it is when it hits the media.