Why do foster parents abuse children? (and how to help)

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “Why do foster parents abuse children?” and provide you tips on how to help the children who are being abused.

Why do foster parents abuse children? 

The majority of foster parents, the ones you don’t read about or see them on internet sites for abuse, do not abuse foster children. Consider the occasional references to this sad situation compared to the thousands of children in foster care. Most foster parents treat their foster children as family members.

The only people who make good foster parents under the current system are the few people who are unable to have children and are willing to give their love to children they know they will eventually have to give up to someone else. 

Most foster parents are people who attempt to find a way of having a little bit leftover from the ‘expense’ payments given to them by the state. It is hard to blame them, as their children also need to eat. Some save the money by being very good at economizing and treating the foster children like their own, and others resent the foster children and never allow them any luxuries. 

Sadly, some people go into foster care specifically because they are paedophiles, and can stay under the radar while abusing the most vulnerable children. Most of the people who are supposed to make sure foster parents are doing a good job have way too many children on their list to have any chance of actually knowing what is going on with even half of them.

Also, most foster parents do not make money from children. The stipend from the state barely covers food. The foster parent takes care of things like household expenses, clothing, fun things, prom dresses, iPads and smartphones out of their income for the most part.

There are foster parents, often relatives of the children, who do treat the children poorly. Relatives can be resentful when’ saddled’ with children they didn’t want. Sometimes the relative is the only one around to take a child. And the child may hope that his aunt is going to be like a mom. However, the aunt may not have been given a choice.

Foster parents always have a choice to take a placement or not.

Requirements to be a foster parent in the US

The requirements that are mandatory to become a foster parent are the following:

  • The person must be in full exercise of her/his civil rights.
  • Be over 25 years of age and at least 14 years older than the child.
  • Foster care is only allowed for more than one person when they are spouses or stable partners.
  • The people who offer to foster minors must have a balanced emotional situation, have time, have a flexible educational attitude and a conciliatory family environment.

Types of foster care in The US

There are different types of foster care, based mainly on the duration of the minor in the foster family:

  1. Emergency and diagnosis – It allows the minor to live with a family while the minor’s situation is studied, it is for children under 6 years old.
  1.  Short-term – Two-year foster care for the minor to return to his original family.
  1.  Long-term – Foster care for more than two years while the family of origin solves its problems.
  1.  On holidays and weekends  – For children over 9 years old who are in residential centres and need to enjoy a family environment.
  1. Of educational action – For minors with special educational needs, chronic illnesses and/or conduct disorders and sibling groups.
  1.  Permanent – When the abandonment is definitive and pre-adoptive foster care is not considered favourable.

The international regulations that regulate the rights of minors establish the obligation of the States to facilitate such shelters. Article 19.1 of the 1989 United Nations Convention and Principle VI of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, establish this.

Unicef has prepared this guide of good practices for the care of underage children and adolescents as alternative care.

The costs and benefits of fostering a child in the US

Most families considering fostering a child have a similar story: “They always want to do it one day, when their children are old enough, life is too slow, or when they have too much money in the bank.

If you are considering temporarily fostering a child, you need to think beforehand and consider a few aspects. 

  1. Time. Although the adoption system partners with families to determine whether a child might be appropriate in terms of age, sex, and special needs, it cannot always account for the length of the child’s stay. The reception time can vary according to the child’s situation, which can be only a few weeks or even a lifetime.
  1. Finances: It is natural to have financial concerns about temporarily adopting a child. However, in terms of high financial costs, very little is known. 

Although government programs vary from state to state, foster families are generally awarded a daily stipend in addition to other financial resources, including food vouchers, medical aid, and child care subsidies. Some states even offer free state tuition for public universities and additional stipends for the child’s birthday or Christmas.

  1. Support. All foster families need the additional support of family and friends, church or community organizations to assist them in the emotional and physical aspects of raising a child. The government also requires a background check and specialized training of all those wishing to temporarily adopt children.

Many people are unaware of these requirements, so please talk to your friends and family about the extra help they will need and whether they need to submit background checks or sign up for training.

What to do if you suspect that a child in foster care is being harmed

If you suspect that a child in foster care is being harmed in any way, it is your duty to report it to higher authorities. 

Mandatory reporters, that is, persons required by law to report child abuse, are a decisive link in the child protection system. Almost three-quarters of the complaints of

child abuse comes from mandatory reports. 

In many cases, those community members are the only people, outside the immediate family, seeing babies or young children who are abused or neglected.

All citizens are responsible to prevent abuse and protect children, and we can help them in different ways, from simply offering them our friendship to protect them in cases of abuse. 

The communities can provide the resources children and families need, such as

safe daycare and treatment for abused children. The mandated reporters of child abuse, the Department of Health and Human Services and law enforcement officers have a legal obligation to protect children.

The easiest abuse to recognize is the one that leaves physical marks such as bruises or burns. Some forms of carelessness are also visible, such as the malnutrition or young children left alone.

A child may tell you that he is being abused. Most of the time, sexual abuse or mental injury are difficult to detect for those who are not directly related to the child and his family. 

Should I report a suspicion of abuse?

The Department of Health and Human Services or law enforcement agencies need

a specific allegation of abuse to research it. 

If you are worried about a child and you have a relationship with him, try asking a few key questions about the subject of abuse, but being extremely careful. General questions like “Is something wrong?” Or “You look upset, do you want to

talk about something? ”may encourage the child to talk with you.

What should I say to a child who tells me that he is abused?

Let the child know that he is not responsible for the abuse. Don’t be startled or start blaming anyone. Tell him that you are going to get in touch with people who can

help him and let him know that these people will have to talk to him.

Take all reports of abuse seriously and report it. Do not force the child to tell you more than he is willing to tell. 

All you have to do is report the suspected abuse, not prove it happened. This is a very difficult time for children and they need your understanding, support and patience.

How do children react after a complaint of abuse is made?

Even if the abuse has occurred, it may be difficult for the child to admit it and even more difficult to repeat their story to social workers, police officers, lawyers, and other people who may be involved in an abuse case.

How your family reacts will greatly affect the way the child will react. Sometimes the non-abusive parent will immediately believe and support him.


In this article, we discussed the following subject: Why do foster parents abuse their foster children? We talked about the costs and benefits of fostering a child in the United States and what to do if you suspect that a child is abused by his family.

The bottom line is that not all foster parents abuse children. Some love their foster children as much as they love their biological ones. We should not judge all foster parents just because there are some bad examples of foster parents out there.

Nevertheless, we remind you that if you believe that a child is abused, you should report it, even if it proves to be a false accusation in the end.

If you have questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Why do foster parents abuse?

Are foster kids abused?

Unfortunately yes, some foster kids are abused. According to a 2017 report, in Arizona, from 25 per cent to as high as 40 percent of former foster children report having been abused or neglected while in foster care.

Why do people want to be foster parents?

Most people want to be foster parents because they want to improve the life of a child. People who have the time, the patience and the resources to help children are often the right candidates for foster care.

What does foster parents mean?

Foster parents are people who take care of a child even though he/she is not their biological child. Foster parents offer all the need and care just as a biological parent would.

How many kids are abused in the foster system?

According to a 2017 survey, as many as 28 percent of kids are abused while in the foster care system.

How many foster parents are there in the US?

There are approximately  690,000 children in foster care in the US. Many foster parents take care of more than one child, but this number should give you a general idea of how many foster parents are in the US.

What state has the highest foster care rate?

The state with the highest foster care rate is:  District of Columbia with a 61.67 score. Followed by: New Mexico (60.26), West Virginia (58.50) and Mississippi (57.87).






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