There has been a notable increase in the number of students with disabilities who are made to spend most of their school time in a general education classroom environment. Such a trend is a result of the guise of full inclusion in schools. The quest for integration came into effect allegedly based on the rights and the social benefits that were purported to be obtained by the students when placed in such general setups. However, a bigger number of the students with disabilities have been placed in foster care or institutionalized homes. To fully understand this issue, we will define what disability is and further seek a deeper insight of discrimination challenges which youths with disability face.
What is a Disability?
Disability can be defined as a physical or mental condition which as a result limits an individuals one or more major life activity. Lightfoot et al. (2011) define the most common disability conditions among the youths to include emotional disturbance. Other common disabilities include intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities and physical impairments. The Administration of Developmental Disabilities (ADD) define developmental disability as the physical or mental limitations which start before attaining an age of 22 and limits an individual from living independently, taking good care of themselves, walking, eating, talking, comprehending, and making decisions on their own. Examples of disabilities classified under developmental disabilities include autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, speech and language disorders. On the other hand, physical disability includes the inability to walk, play, speak clearly, and perform personal chores due to body impairments. Having one or multiple disabilities makes life more complicated for individuals because they cannot do certain tasks without seeking for assistance from others.
Discrimination of the Disabled Youths.
Despite the recognition of children with disability, much is still yet to be done to understand who they are, their places of residence, or what their experiences are. Being with a disability is seemingly being born in a world which is against you. It becomes an endless struggle to make people pay attention to you just like any other person and not be viewed as a helpless animal or a lost cause. According to CCAN and CCD (2001) maltreatment of youths including those with disabilities is on a high rate and should be a serious concern that needs to be addressed due to its adverse effects. In as much as all the youths are subjected to maltreatment, research work has indicated that children with disability are more susceptible to discrimination and ill-treatment. Such unfortunate acts come from different groups of people in the society including peers who perceive individuals with disabilities to be lesser because they cannot do what they can do. Consequently, they form a hypothesis that their peers with disabilities are set for failure and thus deserve to be treated unjustly.
Due to their vulnerability, a lot of research work has been dedicated to accurately document the extent of abuse among children and youths with disabilities or if disability precipitated further violence. CCAN and CCD (2001) points to the research which was conducted by the Boys Town National Research Hospital. The findings assert that the children with disabilities were at a greater risk of becoming victims of discrimination and abuse. The study indicated that youths with disabilities are 1.8 times more likely to be neglected, 1.6 times more likely to be physically abused, and 2.2 times more likely to be sexually abused. The findings indicate that discrimination was more prevalent for youths with disabilities than to those without disabilities.
Youths with disability are known to be at increased risk of maltreatment and other kinds of abuse and neglect. A majority of research work which has been conducted in Europe, Spain, Canada, and the USA has indicated that maltreatment rate of youths with disabilities is on a high as compared to their peers without any disabilities. Lightfoot et al. (2011) point out to a research which indicated that the prevalence rate of discrimination among the youths with disabilities was 1.7 times higher than the prevalence of maltreatment among the children without disabilities. Their research further points at research work which has been conducted which indicated that youths with disabilities were 3.4 times more likely to face maltreatment as compared to their counterparts with not disability impairments.
Studies have shown varied results of the rate of abuse for youths based on their ethnicity, geographic location, or their parents financial status. The correlation indicated that youths whose parents were financially stable faced diminished abuse and maltreatment as compared to those from humble backgrounds. Slayter (2016) in an exploratory points at a data set which suggested that youths with disabilities had made more contact with child welfare officers as compared to their counterparts with no disabilities. Perhaps, this can be used as an indicator to highlight the high rate of maltreatment which youths with disabilities go through to warrant the need to access child welfare services. A population-based study in one of United States city indicated that 22% of maltreated youths had a disability.
Foster Home System
Foster home systems are the programs which allow a minor to be placed into an institutionalized home or a private home of a certified caregiver. Before putting a minor into a foster home, all arrangements are conducted by the government or a social service agency and the parent intending to have the child. Hall-Lande (2006) asserts that children with disabilities faced high chances of removal from their parents or their residential environment as compared to their counterparts with no disabilities. When parents of children with disabilities become more involved with Child welfare system, it is always common that the parties involve seeking the best way in which to serve them. In complex situations, the youths with disabilities are removed from their families because their family is unable to care for them, they face abuse or neglect. As a result, they are placed in a foster family home systems. Such cases happen despite the painful experience of being separated from siblings and parents and being placed in foster care.
Researchers have pointed out to the things which can be done to enhance the development of youths with disabilities. One of the methods as suggested by Child protective system (CPS) propose the admission of the children with disabilities to foster home where their growth and development can be closely monitored. Children with disabilities experience more complex needs which might not be available in home setups. Because of that, these children with disabilities are given up for adoption or recommended to foster homes where their adoptive parents are better placed to handle and provide for them while Child Protective Services closely monitor their growth and development.
Hall-Lande (2006) tells a story of life in a foster care home, and perhaps that should give a deeper insight of life in such an environment. Aside from the painful experience if getting separated from siblings and parents, there is always a sense of confusion and uncertainty. A child feels alone and isolated from the world they know. Social worker are not always on hand to help settle the fears and uncertainty of what happens next in their lives. When this happens, a child needs someone whom they can talk to closely. Unfortunately for the children with disabilities, this is not always the case as the social workers are not always there to assure them of what they are going through. Research in most foster homes has led to the conclusion that many of Americas child welfare systems are badly broken and as a result, the youths with disabilities can suffer more severe harm as a result.
Disabled Youth in Foster Care System: Differences in Treatment.
Research has shown that there is a higher likelihood of out-of-home placement for children with disabilities. In most cases, placement is done when officers perceive the existence of danger for the youth. Foster care homes do not always present the ideal place since these youths also undergo negative experiences. Apart from the negative experiences, research has shown that youths who grow up or spend most of their time in foster care homes are less likely to establish and build lifelong connections that will guide them through adulthood. Slayter (2016) state that youths in foster care are likely to experience potential socioeconomic and psychological stressors which as a result makes them to be vulnerable to potential risks. For this reason, the youths with disability are not cushioned from the risks to which they were exposed while outside foster care systems.
Shannon and Tappan (2011) makes a key assertion that youths with disabilities might be a source of stress for their caregivers. As a result, the stress they create to their caregivers could lead to maltreatment. It is suggested that parents may view children as a burden and as a result, they are given out to foster homes so that they are not do not continually give stress to them. Because of their impairments, the children without disabilities also become a source of stress to their caregivers. In most cases, it results in diminished attention to the children and in more adverse scenarios may lead to maltreatment.
Research studies have indicated that caregivers often prejudge children with disabilities. Because of their vulnerability, caregivers easily abuse them as they do not know their rights and they cannot protect themselves. Research carried by the National Council on Disability in the year 2008 affirmed the need to improve the services offered to youths in foster care system. This conclusion was reached after it was noted that the quality of services which were availed to these group of youths did not meet the required standards. Further, the research emphasizes on the need to educate caregivers to understand the needs of the youths with special needs. The conclusions of the report were drawn from several instances where caregivers were not held accountable for the needs of this uniquely challenged and often underserved population. Hall-Lande (2006) indicate that youths with disabilities represent at least 15% of the child population in the United States. It is however noted that there is a massive gap between the child welfare and the disability services systems that need to be closed.
Life for Disabled After Foster Care Youth
Federal legislations advocate for the protection of children with disabilities as well as those under a foster family as well as reflecting their basic goals as youths. Due to these legislations, Individualized Education Programs have been developed which ensures the concrete formation of goals and development of attainable outcomes. However, that is not always the case as the institutions charged with the responsibility of fostering these uniquely challenged individuals do not bother a lot to have them. In other instances, the youths with disabilities are enforced with duties and house chores by their foster parents and caregivers.
As a result, the enforced youths experience tremendous changes in their lives which at some point become too much. A research study has indicated that youths and children who are placed in foster care system end up facing many obstacles, including being at higher risk of having developmental, emotional, and behavioral issues. Zlotnick et al. (2012) state that youth and childhood foster care may be the tipping point signaling the increased ri...
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