In 2001, a 4 year old went missing from her foster home. Her foster parents did not report her missing until roughly 15 months later. Unfortunately, the state's Welfare Agency did not notice she was missing. Her body was never found but her foster parents were convicted of murder. Sadly, this case illustrates the great risk children face when placed in out-of home placement such as foster care. This tragic case reflects the failure to provide and ensure safety to children being placed in foster care. This particular child was placed in an unsafe environment that resulted in her death. Foster homes are designed for children who have been abused or neglected. The failure to protect children in foster care directly effects this population through oppression prejudice, marginalization and poverty.
Children in foster care are a vulnerable population, at any given moment, there are more than half a million children in foster care (U.S Department of Health and Human Services [U.S. DHHS], 2007). Individuals who are obstructed or prevented from becoming competent or from being able to communicate their opinions, emotions and desires experience forms of oppression. Children in foster care struggle throughout developmental stages without essential support. They are thus hindered from becoming a well-rounded individual. Researchers agree that, in order for an adolescent to become successful and well-adjusted adult, they need extra support during developmental milestones (Erikson, 2005; Jones Harden, 2004).It is during these developmental stages in a child's life that they are the most vulnerable, and often times enough they experience some form of abuse and/or neglect. First, it is important to know that currently the United States does not have a set definition for child abuse and neglect. Definitions are different from the state to the federal level and Child welfare agencies may have varying definitions as well.