The overturn of Roe v. Wade raises serious concern for Florida’s foster care system

The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last month will have lasting effects across many pockets of society, some perhaps less publicized than others. One area that could see a ripple effect because of the decision to allow states to determine their own laws is in foster care.

While some parts of the country will make abortions illegal and others will implement strict laws, it is speculated that this will bring a rise to the number of children that are placed in foster care system nationwide.

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Report, in 2019 there were almost 424,000 kids in the system. In 2020, Florida alone had roughly about 25,000 children in foster care. And with many children not in traditional schooling for the last two years – often at home without proper care amid the COVID-19 pandemic — those numbers could rise by the next report.

The system created to protect children has already seen a lot of strain throughout the years. There are currently 4,561 licensed foster homes in the state of Florida. And while 1,463 new foster homes were added, 1,125 were reportedly closed this year alone.

This raises the question on how the Florida Department of Children and Families will be able to take on new children with new state laws on abortion when there is already a shortage on social case workers throughout.

Although experts say it is too premature to speak on how the overturn of Roe v. Wade will affect Florida’s already strained system, the outlook is not looking bright. The numbers of youths being placed on the system keeps growing, but the number of case workers available to service these children has extreme shortage.

Case managers are trained to help children and families under very tough circumstances. They often do not get paid a desirable salary – especially in times of inflation — but their need to help others lands them in this specific field.

The state has about 2,000 case workers but there are still 600 vacant positions, said Florida Coalition for Children CEO Kurt Kelly in a news conference.

The rise in shortages of case managers is mainly due to the very low salary the position offers. A case managers average annual salary begins at about $37,000, which is lower than other professions in similar industries, such as teachers and social workers whose average annual salary begins at about $57,000.

Florida’s 15-week ban abortion law went into effect on July 1. The long lasting effects of this ban will be seen in the upcoming years but the only way to tackle those challenges is by facing the problems the welfare system is dealing with today. 

Isabel Fassi is a student at Florida International University majoring in Journalism. Born and raised in South Florida, she grew up with a passion for fashion and a curiosity for true crime. Her mission is to share the stories of the unheard and silenced, one true crime case at a time.