Please note: The post contains numerous questions. The eNotes Homework Help policy allows for one question per post. This answer primarily addresses the first question.
One of the greatest challenges to creating effective foster care policies and practices in the United States is that there is actually no single “foster care system.” While adoption and foster care are addressed within the Children’s Bureau, a unit of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), each state has significant responsibilities and the right to determine many of its own laws and practices.
According to the Brookings Institution, state-level reform priorities include policy reform and changes in statutes and regulations that can increase the capacity of agencies—both public and private—to engage, support, and retain foster parents. The promotion of both quality caregiving and increased accountability are important components. It stresses the need for “more effective partnerships between parents and agencies.”
The ACF’s decade overview report for 2009–2018 shows one concerning trend, which is an increase in the number of children in foster care from 2012 to 2018, reversing an earlier decline. Similarly, after 2011, the number of children entering foster care exceeded the number exiting the program. The 2018 figure of more than 71,000 cases of termination of parental rights almost reached that of 2011, again showing a reverse trend from the 2012 low of about 58,000, while an encouraging figure was the increased number of children who were adopted. Because of the overall increase in numbers of children in the system, however, the number of children waiting for adoption also increased.