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feature BY JOHN DEGARMO, ED.D.

Child Welfare Around the World

In
May of 2017, the including adoption, child
Roots Research circulation, child rearing,
Center in Athens, fosterage and fostering, with
Greece, held an historic the later term being the most
international adoption and common one. The use of so
foster care conference. Child many terms creates confusion,
welfare experts from across the and certainly reflects different
world came together during practices. Children may be
the two-day conference for placed in different homes for
one issue: the human rights of and are closely monitored to ensure the an abundance of reasons: the
children around the globe. child’s safety. Foster families in these death of parents, divorce, illness, separation
industrialized nations are compensated of family members, and even for the
As the sole representative from the United by the state agency, though compensation strengthening of family ties through future
States, I was honored to be a part of this varies widely from one U.S. state to another, arranged marriages. Girls are “fostered
important event. Indeed, I came away from and from one industrialized nation to out” far more than boys are in most African
the conference gaining great insight into another. For example, foster families in nations. As educational opportunities
how the foster care and adoption process Australia are paid significantly more than increase in many African nations, children
works in other parts of the world; insight their counterparts in the United States. For are also being “fostered out” to other
that I will be able to share with others many third world and developing nations, families, families that are closer to large
throughout the United States. the term “foster care” is one that refers to cities where schools are more readily
something that is quite different than the available. Sadly, many children in these
The theme of the first day centered around system established in the industrialized countries would not have access to school
adoption, with foster care focused upon nations. and educational opportunities if it were not
during the second day. Speakers from for this type of fostering.
Croatia, India, Romania, Belgium, Norway, In many developing nations across the
Greece, the Netherlands, Geneva, the United globe, poor economic situations leave As there is no government financial
Kingdom, Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, as little financial assistance for government assistance in these nations, often the
well as the United States, were featured. assistance. Lack of available health care, foster child is expected, and required, to
As there are differences in foster care adoption organizations and governmental perform a number of domestic chores
services throughout the United States, aid for families and children are the reality. around the house as a source of payment/
it comes as no surprise that there are As a result, foster care agencies are not in reimbursement to their foster family. For
also vast and wide differences in the way place, resulting in many displaced children. some foster children in this scenario, they
nations around the world implement Foster care in these parts of the world is are thought of as domestic servants, not
their foster care services and agencies. In much more informal and often unregulated children, and are treated in a harsh and
truth, the term “foster care” is one that has by a state agency. Often, children are even abusive fashion. Large numbers of
tremendous differences in various areas of placed with family members or even in those “foster children” placed in homes
the world. orphanages. for educational opportunities often fail
school, and even drop out, due to the poor
In many industrialized nations, foster care Throughout much of the African continent, psychological conditions they live in.
is commonly referred to as a temporary the practice of placing underprivileged
placement, made by a state child welfare children into other homes is an old As mentioned earlier, the poor economic
agency, with a family. These foster families tradition, and not an uncommon one. This environment in Africa has severely affected
undergo training by the government, practice has been called many things, the fostering system. “Child shifting,” as

4 8 F O S T E R I N G FA M I L I E S T O D AY I S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 I W W W. F O S T E R I N G FA M I L I E S T O D AY. C O M
fostering is also known, is not financially to the strict ties of tradition of blood and greatest need for one, as more children are

feature
possible, as families are simply not marriage. For those children who fall in need of placement into a foster home
financially able to take another child into outside these cultural traditions, it is often than in any other region of Europe.
their home. Coupled with the tremendous difficult for them to find a home that is

BY JOHN DEGARMO, ED.D.
increase in those children whose parents welcoming. Disturbingly, Japan’s culture is With policy makers and child welfare
have died from HIV/AIDS related diseases, one that is resistant to foster children, as experts from all corners of the globe
this leads to a large number of orphaned there is a lack of understanding from all taking part in this conference, it was a
children trying to survive without any portions of its society. Another struggle time of great awareness, to be sure. I was
assistance from government or family that foster children face in Japan is the lack encouraged to find that those in attendance
members in a form of foster care. Quite of aftercare provisions. For those children were most interested in how the foster care
simply, the high costs of properly installing who have aged out of the foster care system, system functions here in America, and how
an effective foster care system prohibit they have little to no support, and often are they can take some of those practices back
many African countries from developing it. completely on their own. to their own country. I feel that there is an
international movement to improve foster
For the millions of orphan children in European countries are generally care around the world, and I am excited to
Asian countries, the foster care system considered to have the most advanced be a part of it. ❁
offers little hope. Families are a deep foster care systems available. However,
cornerstone for many Asian countries, and there are distinct differences between
children are highly valued. Fortunately, regions throughout the continent. In the ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John DeGarmo,
many children whose parents have died Nordic, or Scandinavian nations, the system Ed.D., is an international expert on foster
find outside parental care with extended is perhaps the most efficient and advanced. care. He has been a foster parent for 15
family members in a form of kinship The governments of these nations are years now, and he and his wife have had
living arrangement, a type of family involved in the promotion of foster care, more than 50 children come through
preservation service. For some Asian
nations, this is the only option that is In many industrialized nations, foster care
supported by the government. As a result,
millions of children who have no living
is commonly referred to as a temporary
extended family member find themselves placement, made by a state child welfare
without a home. More often than not,
Asian governments are quick to place a agency, with a family. These foster families
child into an orphanage. The majority of
these orphanages are overcrowded and
undergo training by the government, and
understaffed with children living in poor are closely monitored to ensure the child’s
conditions. For those children not living
in an orphanage or in kinship care, they safety.
turn to the streets, where too often violence
awaits them. HIV/AIDS related diseases are and provide sufficient funds, staff and their home. He is a consultant to foster
prevalent among children living in these training. Western European nations care agencies, child welfare organizations,
situations. have seen a reduction of government Royal Family Kids Camps, and legal firms,
involvement in foster care, though it is as well as a speaker and trainer on many
Foster care was first introduced in Japan still a highly developed child welfare topics about the foster care system. He is
shortly after World War II, partly in system. The lack of funds has led to a large the author of several foster care books,
response to the large number of orphaned decrease in the placement of children including “The Foster Parenting Manual:
children. Some 60-plus years later, the into care. Central and Eastern European A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving,
foster care system is one that is seldom nations, perhaps due to those nations Safe, and Stable Home” and writes for
used, with only 6 percent of children in suffering under Communism for decades, several publications. He can be contacted
need placed in a foster home. Japan’s have the weakest foster care system and at drjohndegarmo@gmail.com, through
culture may be an explanation for this low the fewest amount of foster homes on the his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or
number. “Family” typically is constrained continent. Nevertheless, this region has the at The Foster Care Institute.

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