Child and family services

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Child and family services is a government and/or non-profit organisation designed to better the well being of individuals who come from unfortunate situations, environmental or biological. People who seek or are sought after to participate in these homes and no other resource to turn to. Children might come from abusive or neglectful homes, or live in very poor and dangerous communities. There are also agencies that cater to people who have biological deficiencies. Families that are trying to live in stable lives come to non-profit organisations for hope of a better future. Child and Family services cater to many different types of people who are all in different situations. These services might be mandated through the courts via a governmental child protection agency or they might be voluntary. Child and family services may be mandated if:

  1. There is domestic violence in the home
  2. There is abuse or neglect in the home
  3. Constant negativity amongst family members which could lead to violent behavior
    1. Physical abuse
    2. Emotional abuse
    3. Sexual abuse

Historical overview[edit]

The history of the nation’s response to child abuse and neglect has been marked by a tension between two missions:

  1. an emphasis on rescuing children from abusive or neglectful families on the one hand
  2. and efforts to support and preserve their families on the other.

18th and 19th centuries[edit]

The legal basis for efforts to protect needy children in colonial times rested on the English Poor Law of 1601. This placed the public responsibility for the poor in the hands of local townspeople. Parents were not held accountable for their children, which lead parent’s to tend to neglect their children and their duties as a parent. The attention of community leaders, philanthropists, and social reformers who were concerned about child abuse and neglect focused primarily on the children of the poorest families and on those who were orphaned, abandoned, or unsupervised.

20th century[edit]

During most of the 19th century, destitute children were sent to institutions operated by private charitable organizations. Many poor or abandoned children were sent to live in almshouses—facilities established in the 19th century in many large cities to house the very poor of all ages. Almshouses provided minimal standard of care to orphaned or needy children and to impoverished, insane, or diseased adults. The almshouses caused the children greater hardships because they were subject to disease and chaos.

The second half of the 20th century saw increasing criticism of the impacts the unsanitary, chaotic almshouses had on children, especially the very young, who suffered high mortality rates there. Due to this, private charities and religious groups began to establish orphanages or children’s asylums to separate needy children from adults and protect them from disease, maltreatment, and such. Many parents were losing custody of their children because the private organizations were able to prove they would be able to take care of the children in need better than their parents could. Children began to feel disconnected from their parents because they had been placed to grow up with other families.

Development[edit]

Child and family services have significantly developed over the last few centuries. Many different forms of help for children and families in need were offered throughout the community. Today we have many different agencies to help with the welfare and survival of many children and their families. However, years ago, many people relied on their community and religion to get them through tougher times. The community’s investment in the wellbeing of its children is reflected in the cultural mores and social norms, and in legal frameworks that permit intervention in individual families when children are abused or neglected.


The formal system through which society responds to child abuse and neglect is now largely a governmental one. Today, primary responsibility for child protection is vested in public child protective services (CPS) agencies, which receive, investigate, and respond to reports of child abuse and neglect. These agencies are usually linked to child welfare departments with broader responsibilities which include foster care and adoption. Usually at this point, the parents lose their right to take care of their children because they are seen to be unfit parents. Today, it is against the law to not report child abuse if evident. Many parents do not realize that they are candidates for the potential loss of their children to government agencies because of their issues, such as poverty, mental illness, or neglect that lead to child abuse.

Types of services[edit]

  1. Emotional abuse

Progression[edit]

The demands that urbanization, industrialization, and immigration placed on poor and working-class families in the late 19th century left many children unattended. Rural states relied on family placements to care for their own homeless or dependent children. This was a precursor for today’s foster care system.

As a general progressive agenda of social reform was adapted in the early years if the 20th century, the approach of assisting parents to care for their children was more widely endorsed. A new policy was issued stating: “No child should be removed from the home unless it is impossible to construct family conditions or to build and supplement family resources as to make the home safe for the child…”[1]

There is still evidence from the 19th century of abandoned children. A 137-year-old foundation for children called New York Foundling Asylum has recently discovered letters from the parents who had abandoned their children in front of the agency because they were unable to care for them. New York Foundling Asylum was a family service agency that cared for thousands of children who had no homes and needed help, otherwise they would have been left on the cold street. This foundation saved thousands of lives and set a tone for other private organizations to contribute as well.[2]

Child Care Debate[edit]

Why are the middle and upper classes getting so much financial help with child care assistance, when the lower class needs the help? Over the last 15 years, federal child care assistance has more than doubled. Poor and low income families, however, have not benefited from this increased spending. Because the most significant child care subsidies are provided through the tax code and not through spending programs, these increases have largely benefited middle- and upper-class families. Lower income families do not benefit because they hardly pay taxes in the first place. One would think that the low income families would need the support the most for their children and it should make it easier to receive help than for the middle to upper class.

Although middle- and upper-class families are at an advantage, the total federal and state funding for child welfare and working families has increased dramatically since the welfare reform, from $2.8 billion in 1995 to $8 billion in 2000. Although it is being made easier now for low income families to benefit from the welfare reform, they are less likely to be enrolled in high quality programs due to uneven access to high quality options in their neighborhoods. Less than one quarter of all eligible families use child care subsidies, and usage varies widely across states and local areas reflecting various barriers to access and scarcity of quality center-based care.

One could also argue that the middle and upper classes are the ones that are paying for the welfare programs through taxes, while the poor are not. Child welfare and income assistance programs serve low income populations. Income assistance is targeted specifically at low income families, and the strong association between poverty and reported child maltreatment means that child welfare agencies deal primarily with low income clientele. However they are not the clientele that are receiving the most funding.

The problem is these funds go increasingly to the least needy among us. A shocking proportion of these funds go to middle and upper income families: Nearly half go to families with incomes above the median. In 1985, less than 1% went to families with adjusted gross incomes below $10,000, and only 13% of adjusted gross incomes below $15,000. So few lower income families can benefit from the credit and less than half of all working mothers claim it.

Since the lower class endures financial strain, this leads to child maltreatment. Parents are giving their children the bare minimum for survival in hope that the government won’t take their children out of the home. The welfare agencies would rather take the children out of their homes and put them in foster agencies which costs almost triple the amount that the parents would need for their children to be healthy and happy if they were just cut a check every month.

Perhaps child care should be universally-available to all families, regardless of their income—like public schools. But that is a long run question, as the proper role of the federal government is establishing such a system, which would call for an enormous increase of public spending. U.S. citizens do not want to pay more taxes, and the middle to upper classes would in tern be paying for universal child care…which they previously were receiving money for anyway.

Problems and solutions[edit]

There are many families in the United States and in other countries who are in need of child and family services to guide them towards building a better future. These children and their families, more often than not, have the desire to create and live better lives, unfortunately they do not have the resources or education on how to do so. Social Welfare is important in the United States to guarantee safety, health, equal opportunity, and social justice.

The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) is located in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and oversees the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program which was created by the Welfare Reform Law of 1996. TANF became effective July 1, 1997, and replaced what was then commonly known as welfare: Aid to Families with Dependent Children(AFDC) and the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) programs. TANF was reauthorized in February 2006 under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides assistance and work opportunities to needy families by granting states the federal funds and wide flexibility to develop and implement their own welfare programs. Citizens may apply for assistance at their local TANF agency.[1]

Progression[edit]

The demands that urbanization, industrialization, and immigration placed on poor and working-class families in the late 19th century left many children unattended. Rural states relied on family placements to care for their own homeless or dependent children. This was a precursor for today’s foster care system.

As a general progressive agenda of social reform was adapted in the early years if the 20th century, the approach of assisting parents to care for their children was more widely endorsed. A new policy was issued stating: “No child should be removed from the home unless it is impossible to construct family conditions or to build and supplement family resources as to make the home safe for the child…”[3]

There is still evidence from the 19th century of abandoned children. A 137-year-old foundation for children called New York Foundling Asylum has recently discovered letters from the parents who had abandoned their children in front of the agency because they were unable to care fro them. New York Foundling Asylum was a family service agency that cared for thousands of children who had no homes and needed help, otherwise they would have been left on the cold street. This foundation saved thousands of lives and set a tone for other private organizations to contribute as well.[4]

Child welfare agencies—both private and public—have focused in providing substitute child-rearing environments for children whose parents are unable or unwilling to give them the care they need. With escalating concerns about the effects on children spending long periods of their childhood in temporary foster homes, interest has grown in efforts to preserve families and maintain bonds of both kinship and community.

The changes in the welfare system over the last few centuries, has created much better environments for children and their families. Through government agencies, officials keep close eyes on children in making sure that they are adequately taken care of. There are now many programs for children to ensure safety, morals, values, and educational success. Children’s parents are also given opportunities through agencies and programs to participate in more positive ways in their children’s lives, and in return more positive lives for themselves.

Prominent Non-profit Organizations[edit]

See also[edit]

Non Profit Organization[2] Administration for Children and Families[3] Past, Present, and Future Roles of Child Protective Services[4] Glimpses of Heartache, and Stories of Survival[5] Federal Child Care Assistance: A Growing Middle-Class Entitlement[6] Welfare Reform and Child Care Options for Low-Income Families[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Office of Family Assistance
  2. ^ Wikipedia, Internet source, October 1, 2007
  3. ^ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 1, 2007
  4. ^ JSTOR, The Future of Children, Vol. 8, No. 1, Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect (Spring, 1998), pp. 23-38
  5. ^ The New York Times, September 3, 2007
  6. ^ JSTOR, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management > Vol. 8, No. 2 (Spring, 1989), pp. 313-318
  7. ^ JSTOR,The Future of Children > Vol. 12, No. 1, Children and Welfare Reform (Winter, 2002), pp. 96-119