Domestic vs. Refugee Foster Care


There are some significant differences between domestic foster care and refugee foster care:

Domestic Foster CareRefugee Foster Care
AgesNewborn – 18 y.oTeenagers, typically 16-17 y.o
GendersMale/FemaleMostly males
GoalReunification with birth parents, unless parental rights have been terminated.Independent living once they age out of the system at the age of 21 y.o
Parental VisitsIf parental rights have not been terminated, the frequency of the required visits depends on the child’s age.No parental visits. Birth parents are either deceased or “missing” outside of the U.S.
Adoption EligibilityIf parental rights have been terminated by a court, the child becomes eligible for adoption.Not eligible for adoption, because birth parents’ rights were never terminated.
Place of OriginAnywhere in the U.S.Prior to coming to the U.S, refugee foster children live in refugee camps all around the world. They are only brought to the US once they have been matched with a licensed family. Most Muslim refugee foster kids, are currently coming from Africa and the Far East. None are coming from the Middle East at this time.
Trauma ExperiencedVaries greatly. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and removal from family.Same as domestic, as well as a new country, new language, new culture, likely to have experienced exposure to war.
SchoolingLikely to have experienced interrupted schooling.Likely to have missed many years of formal schooling.
Licensing Procedure3-6 months starting with orientation.Same as domestic, plus minor additional steps, such as TB screening for the foster parents.
TravelCannot travel outside the state of residence without the consent of birth parents.Cannot travel outside the state of residence without the permission of the court.


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