“The Fosters” – Issues of Race and Culture in Foster Care

ABC-Family-The-FostersOn The Fosters this week, the two common themes that arose throughout the episode were race, ethnicity, and culture. This week, we are going to focus on Marianna’s quinceañera, a Latin American celebration of a girl’s transition into womanhood at age 15.

During this week’s show, Steph and Lena were preparing to throw a quinceañera for Mariana specifically to help her remain connected with her Latino heritage. (Steph and Lena adopted Marianna and Jesus out of the foster care system when they were young children.) As Mariana was shopping for a dress and learning how to waltz for her party, anyone could see how happy she was to be participating in this rite of passage for Latina women. (Who wouldn’t be when you get a bubble machine at your party?) It is also clear that, even though neither Steph nor Lena have Latino heritage, they understand how important it was for Mariana to experience and remain connected to her culture.

Many children who have been involved with the foster care system are not as fortunate as Mariana, and have lost connections to their culture over time. Cultural identity can be critical to the well-being of children in the foster care system, so much so that it was one of reasons the United States Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. The ICWA provides requirements which are designed to help preserve Native American familial connections and ensure the vitality of Native American culture. Unfortunately, in additional to Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos have also been historically overrepresented in Nebraska’s foster care system. Although there is more awareness regarding the disproportionate placement of minorities into foster care today, Nebraska continues to be one of the worst states in terms of disproportionality.

There are efforts underway to address the issue this issue, and disproportionality will continue to be a priority issue for Appleseed. Addressing this issue will provide better outcomes for children like Mariana and ensure that just because a child is placed in foster care, they will not forget who they are and where they came from.

Be sure to keep checking our blog regularly for more reviews of The Fosters and discussion of the issues the show raises.

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