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Global Experts Agree: Children Deserve A Better Foster Care System

Adoption and foster care leaders from several nations gathered together in May in Greece at an international foster care conference, and began examining  alternative forms of care for children in foster care on a global level.  Led by the Roots Research Center, these global experts focused upon how adoption and foster care laws have not met the needs of children around the world, and how children are not being protected under Human Rights Laws.  As the sole representative from the United States, and with the help of Royal Family Kids Camps, I was honored to speak on the foster care system in America.  The two day conference focused on adoption issues that plagued Europe, as well as around foster care.

“In Estonia the biggest challenge in foster care and adoption is missing support system,” said Jane Snaith, with Family For Each Child.  “The second challenge is lack of professional knowledge about attachment, child trauma, its effects on child development - and, the most crucial - how to apply this knowledge in daily practice. Jane’s vision is to establish resource centers in Estonia, where both families and children they care for would receive relevant and sufficient support on all stages of their fostering and adoption journey.

In India, where the population is 1.3 billion people, the foster care system is one that is practically unknown.  In the past, the child protection system in India, as well as other nations across Europe and around the world, relied solely  on institutions; a system that many global foster care leaders find as both archaic and extremely harmful to the child. Children entered the system and lived in big institutions until they turned 18 with little or no transition or life trajectory.

Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, with Children’s Emergency Relief International, or CERI, is working to design and establish the nation’s first true foster care system in a country where children’s rights have been ignored for generations.  "The Indian child protection system is rapidly developing to include the concept of family based care.  The transition has to consider historically entrenched hierarchies, caste divisions, religious ideologies and cultural practices.  In our country, social change will happen slowly.  Every day our field comes together more to work towards convergence of efforts and ideas to envision every child's right to family."

In Greece, where the international conference was held, foster care is also it’s infancy.  For decades, children were placed in institutions, which are to this day suffer from lack of funding, are overcrowded, and do not focus on the emotional needs and well being of the child.

“Foster care is a strategy in Greece for only a few children, according to Mary Theodoropoulou, of the Roots Research Center.  “Greece does not have yet a practical and fully detailed legislation on foster care. Children in need  instead enter institutions, where they suffer in several ways.  If they are lucky enough, they might end up to a foster family.  Our hope is to  promote foster care as a good practice for children in need.  Along with this, we are working to educate and train foster parents.”  Indeed, the Roots Research Center is working with several Eastern European foster care experts to also promote the need of supervision from social workers who are already trained in foster care procedures.  “We have cooperated with law makers and advocates for teens in order to go to foster care and the results were wonderful,” said Theodoropoulou.

  So many nations across the world are really  now only just beginning to create their own national program.  Despite the fact that the foster care system in the United States is one that is faced with many challenges right now, those in attendance at the conference were eager to learn more about America’ s foster care system.  Yet, perhaps what struck me most about while at the conference was that so many nations across our world still struggling with the human rights of children, and how to best care for those children in need.  Sadly, so many nations across our world still do not value children.

Dr. John DeGarmo is an international expert on foster care. He has been a foster parent for 15 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is a consultant to foster care agencies, child welfare organizations, and legal firms, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system. He is the author of several foster care books, including The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home and writes for several publications. He can be contacted at, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.

Dr. John DeGarmo's picture
Foster Care and Parenting Specialist

Dr. John DeGarmo is considered a leading expert in Foster Care and Parenting.  Dr. John and his wife have been parents to over 50 children, including adopting three children from the foster care system. He is the host of the weekly radio program Parent Factors with Dr. John. Find out more HERE.