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The media often depicts children entering foster care as bruised and battered victims needing rescue from an abusive parent. While those situations are real and tragic, the harm most children entering foster care have experienced is rarely visible. That’s because neglect is the most common cause for the removal of children from their parents. Last year, 79% of confirmed child abuse or neglect allegations in Texas were for a type of neglect.
Neglect occurs when a caregiver fails to meet a child’s basic needs. This might be in the form of food, shelter, clothing, healthcare or supervision. Poverty is often an associated factor; however, financial struggles cannot be the sole cause of neglect. A caregiver’s actions (or lack of action) must be present for the state to get involved with a family. The most prominent type of neglect is neglectful supervision. It made up 94% of confirmed neglect allegations in Texas last year. This is when a parent places a child in a situation that could lead to immediate harm or fails to remove them from it. Some examples include lapses in parenting decisions about a child’s capabilities, leaving a child home alone or leaving a child with an inappropriate caregiver.
It’s common for neglect to coincide with a parent’s substance abuse. Addiction is a life-controlling illness that can lead some parents to prioritize their addiction over a child’s immediate needs. Some parents may leave children unsupervised so they will not witness them use while others may be under the influence around their children, incoherent or passed out, and unable to supervise properly.
Thinking about what children have experienced can easily harden our hearts towards those responsible for their wellbeing, but it’s important to remember those people were once children themselves and likely had their own experience with trauma. Their parents may have left them alone, inappropriately, as a child. They may lack an understanding of child development. They may be struggling with their mental health. They may have limited financial resources or support systems, lacking quality childcare options. Some parents may not understand the potential consequences or impact of their behavior. Children often left unsupervised are easily accessible to others who may take advantage of them.
For a child, neglect means not having your needs met, it means not being able to rely on the adults around you, and it means learning to take care of yourself. The trauma of neglect can impact a child’s development and attachment, but with consistent, loving, nurturing care, parents can help children heal from trauma and grow to develop healthy relationships. This is why foster and adoptive families play such an important role in the lives of these children. At PCHAS, we train all of our foster and adoptive families in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). Using TBRI, we teach families to provide the balance of nurture and structure that kids need to begin to heal.
PCHAS believes in birth families. We know parents love their children and we believe that even those battling addiction or entrenched in unhealthy patterns can break free from cycles of abusing or neglecting children. We want to build families up and keep families together. When that’s not possible, we prepare foster and adoptive families to care for these children and help them heal. Together, we can ensure children are loved, have their needs met and are afforded the opportunity to build healthy, lasting relationships.
Could you be a loving, nurturing family for children in need? Kids in your community need families like you. Give us a call at 512-212-5700 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.