I'm confused why they would have kids move from foster home to foster home?
I kind of answered this question with the post: How long do the kids stay with their foster family? But I wanted to delve a little deeper. After all, kids being shuffled from home to home is one of the complaints we hear all the time about foster care, right?
My first answer to this question of why kids are moved around is that it isn't necessarily the reality of foster care today. There was indeed a time when children were shuffled from home to home. One theory I have is that foster parents weren't well-trained and perhaps weren't prepared to handle the special needs of traumatized children, which may have resulted in a high number of requests to have children moved. Today most foster parents are required to participate in fairly in-depth training, which does the best it can to prepare them for what to expect of the children and the system.
Sadly, there was also a time when it was believed that it was in the best interest of the child and biological family-unit to lessen that child's attachment with other caretakers, so children were sometimes moved after a period of time to reduce their attachment with foster parents. Thankfully it is now known that the opposite is true, and it's actually vitally important for the child to form a secure attachment to his caretaker.
However, moves still do happen. Generally speaking, this is how it works: Kids are pulled from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The goal is almost always to rehabilitate the parents and move the kids back home as soon as possible. So kids need somewhere else to live while the parents are doing whatever is required of them (taking parenting classes, attending rehab, getting out of jail, etc).
The current preference in the foster care world is to place kids with relatives (called "kinship care"). Often the kids are placed in a traditional foster home while relatives are located and screened. Once suitable (i.e. safe) relatives are found and screened (background check, home visit), the kids will be moved from the foster home to the kinship home. Usually this is a relatively quick process and kids only stay in the foster home for a short period of days or weeks. Occasionally relatives pop up further down the road once the kids have been in a stable foster home for a longer period of time. Sometimes relatives who were deemed an unsuitable placement in the beginning end up changing their situation later (a boyfriend with a record moves out of the house, the family moves to a larger home that can accommodate the kids, etc). So while moves to relatives are supposed to take place shortly after children come into the state's care, it often occurs months and sometimes even years into a foster placement.
Other times a child is placed with a foster-only family, and if it looks like the child will not be returning to his or her biological parents,that child will need to be moved to a pre-adoptive home.
And sometimes a foster family simply cannot meet the needs of a particular child. It's important to take every step possible to reduce the number of moves a child in foster care experiences. Foster parents are urged to take a very honest look at their strengths and weaknesses and only accept placements for which they will have a high likelihood of success. But even with the best of intentions, mis-matches are still made. Often when children come into care the caseworkers have very little information about that child. No one knows if they will be a fire-starter, a sexual preditor to other children in the home, an animal-abuser, or any number of other issues that could put another family in serious danger. While foster parents have a responsibility to the child they are fostering, they also have a responsibility to keep safe any other children in their home. Fostering one child at the expense of other children is irresponsible: the last thing our world needs is more hurt kids.
Finally, there are still the sad occasions in which a foster family is at fault for a child's move. There are times when a child has to be moved due to abuse happening in the foster home. There are times when a foster family simply doesn't want to keep fostering.
As with anything, there is a lot of gray area in all of this. There are times when a foster parent becomes ill and the caseworker decides to move the child. There are times when false allegations of abuse are made against the foster parent, and the child is removed from the home during the investigation. So, yes, moves do happen. One would hope that most of those moves are for the long-term benefit of the child.