Not all of the children in foster care have come from violent homes. but many foster children have been in dysfunctional homes where parents or other relatives lacked the ability to meet the children's daily needs. Fosler care refers to institutional settings or residences where adults other than a child's own parents or biological relatives serve' as caregivers. States provide financial aid to foster parents. and the intent of such programs is that the children will either return to their families or be adopted by other families. However 'hs is often not the case for "difficult to place" .n, particularly those who are over ten years 01 c, have illnesses or disabilities. or are perceived as suffering from "behavioral problems:' More than
568,000 children are in foster care at any given time (Barovick, 200). About 60 percent of children in foster care are children of color, with about 4i percent of them being African American-almost three times the percentage of African American children in the total U.S. child population (Children's Defense Fund, 2002). Even when the number of children entering foster care for the first time remains relatively stable, the total number of children in foster care continues to increase because fewer children are leaving foster care and being adopted or placed in permanent homes (Children's Defense Fund, 2002). Many children in foster care have limited prospects for finding a permanent home; however, a few innovative programs offer hope for children who previously had been moved from one foster care setting to another Problems in the family contribute to the large numbers of children who are in foster care. Such factors include parents' illness, unemployment, or death; violence or abuse in the family; and high rates of divorce.