Just War Theory in Foster Care: A New Ethical Decision-Making Model

I propose the creation and use of a new ethical model for everyone involved in the decisions regarding children in the foster care system.

Jamie Schwandt September 17, 2017
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The foster care system is in desperate need of an ethical decision-making model. Decisions are being made, just not the right ones. I propose the creation and use of a new ethical model for case workers, the judicial system, the legislative system, and anyone involved in the decision of a child in the foster care system. These decisions include: the decision to remove a child, where to place a child, and what to do after placement (where a permanent solution is determined). After placement could be reintegration, adoption, or remaining in foster care.

So, what is this model? I call it liberi ad iustitiam. This is Latin for the Right Decisions for Children. Let’s take a look at how I came up with this and how to use it.

Jus ad bellum

As a United States Army Soldier, I have a personal interest in understanding the paradoxical nature of war. Jus bellum iustum is the Latin translation for Just War Theory, which proposes that the we must only go to war when it is morally justifiable though a series of criteria. The criteria are split into two groups: right to go to war (jus ad bellum) and right conduct in war (jus in bello). For a deeper look into the criteria, I encourage you to visit the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Similarly, the Powell Doctrine (a journalist-created term based on the Weinberger Doctrine) provides us a list of questions to be answered before military action is taken. For a deeper look at the American statesman and retired four-star general and the Powell Doctrine, visit the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Let’s take a quick look at a side-by-side comparison of jus ad bellum and the Powell Doctrine.

jus ad bellum

Liberi ad iustitiam: Right Decisions for Children

So, what is this new ethical decision-making model I propose? Liberi ad iustitiam or Right Decisions for Children. I propose a criterion of sorts by combining elements of the Just War Theory and the Powell Doctrine through 5 key questions (along with examples of each). Let’s take a look.

right decisions for the children

It is hard to argue with these questions, regardless of what you think of the foster care system. We seem to make decisions regarding the well-being and safety of others with no rational model. It is vitally important we develop one when making decisions for foster children.

I will leave you with a statement. Really think about the meaning of this statement as you read it.

dont be upset

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Jamie Schwandt

Dr. Jamie Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an author and former foster child. He is a TV show host, motivational speaker, lean six sigma master black belt, statistics professor, and a major in the U.S. Army. Dr. Schwandt is the author of the books Finding Your Hero (2015) and Succeeding as a Foster Child (2014). He is the host of the inspiring TV show Dreaming Big and is a fitness expert with a unique mindset for positive growth. You can find his published work here, his website, Facebook, and Twitter.


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