The New York Times ( July 16, 1972) reported that "a plan to use a private house as a group home for nine children from New York City has thrown this middle-class mostly white neighborhood [in a city suburb] into an uproar." Neighborhood opposition is based not only on antipathy to lower-class, possibly disturbed, children, but also on the fact that many of the children to be placed in group homes might be black.
An attempt to establish a group foster home for retarded children in Scarsdale, a New York City suburb, also evoked considerable controversy ( New York Times, July 22, 1978). In response, some communities are developing zoning regulations that require every area of a community to accept their fair share of responsibility for such homes. This action is meant to preclude the larger concentration of such homes in one section of a community, generally the more disadvantageous area where the neighborhood may have less political clout (see also pp. 614-615).
Foster-family care is substitute care in which the role of the biological parent is implemented by another set of parents. Unlike other forms of substitute care--institutional child care and adoption--foster-family care is designed to be temporary and to offer the child care in a family setting. In general, children for whom foster-family care is appropriate are those who cannot be cared for in their own home, even if supportive and supplementary services are provided, and who can make use of and contribute to family life.
The children usually come from chronically deprived lower-class families facing crisis situations. Although most of the children are white, there is a disproportionate number of nonwhite children.
The situation that most frequently precipitates the need for short-term foster care is the illness of the mother. Problems in parental role implementation due to death, divorce, desertion, and inadequate income, manifested frequently in neglect and/or abuse, bring a sizable group of children into long-term care. The child's disturbed behavior or physical and mental handicaps may also give rise to the need for long-term care.
Although there are several different kinds of foster-family homes, the foster-family boarding home accounts for some 95 per cent of all foster-family placements.
Foster families must be recruited, evaluated, and ultimately selected for a particular child. Agencies operate a constant recruitment service, assisted by special recruiting drives. Relatively few of those who indicate interest in foster- family care ultimately become foster parents. Withdrawal of application accounts for the greatest percentage of such attrition. Rigorous, selective standards are of considerably less importance in eliminating applicants.
Foster families tend to come from the upper-lower- and the lower-middle- class segments of the community. The mothers in such families regard child rearing as an important role, one from which they derive considerable satisfaction.
Casework with the biological parents is directed toward helping them with the feelings that are likely to accompany placement: guilt, shame, anxiety, sad-