Child and family services
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Child and family services is a government 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 have 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:
- There is domestic violence in the home
- There is abuse or neglect in the home
- There is constant negativity amongst family members which could lead to violent behavior
The history of the United States' response to child abuse and neglect has been marked by a tension between two missions:
- an emphasis on rescuing children from abusive or neglectful families
- efforts to support and preserve their families
18th and 19th centuries
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.
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.
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 well-being 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.
Two-generation family strategies
Census data shows that in the United States almost half of all children live in low-income families. Research suggests a critical connection between parent well-being and the child's emotional, physical, and economic well-being; as well as, a connection to the child's educational and workforce success. Despite the crucial connection between parent and child well-being, many services designed to help low-income families target either the parent or the child, leaving someone behind. Two-generation family programs coordinate services that aid low-income parents and children simultaneously, putting the whole family on a path to success.
Two generation family services aim to end the inter-generational cycle of poverty by moving families to economic stability and security through education, workforce training, and related support services. Though each two generation program approach is different they all have three intentionally linked components: education and/or job training for parents that leads to family-supporting employment, high quality early childhood education, and family support services.
Parent education and job training
Two generation family programs aim to get parents to a place of economic stability and security where they can secure employment that enables them to support their family and improve child outcomes. Programs aid parents in getting to economic security through education and job training opportunities. Two generation program educational opportunities typically involve general educational development (GED) courses, and connections to post-secondary education supports, such as, financial aid or access to full-day childcare. In addition to education services, two generation family programs often utilize sector-based workforce development. This type of workforce development targets job training for specific industries that will meet regional workforce needs, increasing the chances that graduates of the program will be able to find work.
High-quality early childhood education
Two generation family programs include high quality early childhood education that nurtures children's learning and development. Investing in high quality early childhood education that extends from pre-K through third grade improves educational achievement throughout schooling and success in the workforce. Programs can utilize existing early childhood development programs (i.e. Early Start or Head Start) and add two-generation elements such as offering full-day/full-year services to support working parents.
Family support services
Two-generation family programs offer comprehensive wraparound services to support families. Examples of these support services include access to physical and mental health services for children, career coaches, case managers, family planning, and food assistance. These services aim to help expand family resources and support networks.
Child care in the United States
Research suggests that child care is a critical component of livable communities for many families in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and that local planning policies can play an important role in ensuring adequate child care. The majority of parents who work depend upon formal, organized out-of-home care.
Studies show that families are paying a significant part of their earnings for child care. Between 2011 and 2012, the cost of child care increased at up to eight times the rate of increases in family income. For a four-year-old child, center-based care ranges from about $4,300 in Mississippi to $12,350 in Massachusetts. Lower income families have been disproportionately affected by these increases in child care costs. Working families at or near the poverty line did not receive any or enough child care assistance to be able to stay employed and off welfare, and only 12% to 15% of eligible families were served by a Child Care Development Fund subsidy in 1998–1999.
Options for accessibility
Child care subsidies is an option used in many states to help parents pay for child care. These subsidies aid low-income families with children under age 13 in paying for child care so that parents can work or participate in training or education activities. Parents typically receive subsidies in the form of vouchers that they can use with a provider (e.g. relative, neighbor, child care center, or after-school program.)
Additional government programs aim to make child care more affordable. Medium and low income families receive earned income tax credits to compensate for money they allocated to child care arrangements. Individuals may claim up to $3,000 of expenses paid in a year for one qualifying individual (a dependent child age 12 or younger) or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals on their tax return. Benefits from the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) concentrate on low-income families. In contrast, the dependent exemption and the virtually nonrefundable Child Tax Credit (CTC) benefited higher income families with benefits gradually increasing as a person's tax liability increased.
Universal child care is another way to make child care more widely accessible. For example, in Sweden, public childcare is guaranteed to all parents and it operates on a whole-day basis. Parental fees are directly proportional to parents' income and inversely proportional to the number of children in a family.
Finally, another viable option is to increase tax credits for low and medium income families. Currently, President Barack Obama has outlined a plan to triple the child tax care credit to $3,000 per young child.
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..." 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.
Prominent non-profit organizations
- Free the Children
- Metis Child and Family Services Society
- Save the Children
- War Child
- World Vision
- United Family Services
- Cinderella effect
- Residential Child Care Community
- Group homes
- Congregate care
- Cottage homes
- Family support
- Foster care
- Foster care in the United States
- Residential treatment center
- Residential care
- Community-based care
- Teaching-family model
- Kinship care
- Child and youth care
- Child abuse
- Child abandonment
- Wraparound (childcare)
- "Two-Generation Playbook" (PDF). Ascend: The Aspen Institute.
- "Ensuring Children Thrive While Parents Move Ahead" (PDF). Michigan's Children.
- King, Christopher T.; Coffey, Rheagan; Smith, Tara C. (November 2013). "Promoting Two Generation Strategies: A Getting-Started Guide for State and Local Policy Makers" (PDF). Foundation for Child Development.
- American Planning Association (2011). "The Importance of Ensuring Adequate Child Care in Planning Practice" (PDF).
- Child Care Aware of America (2012). "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report" (PDF).
- Child Care Aware of America (2013). "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2013 Report" (PDF).
- Crawford, A (2006). "The Impact of Child Care Subsidies on Single Mothers' Work Effort". Review of Policy Research. 23: 699–711.
- Administration for Children and Family Services (2013). "Characteristics of Families Served by Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Based on Preliminary FY 2013 Data". Missing or empty
- Internal Revenue Service (2010). "Ten Things to Know About the Child and Dependent Care Credit".
- Maag, E (2010). "Simplicity: Considerations in Designing a Unified Tax Credit". National Tax Journal. 63 (4): 765–780.
- European Union (2015). "Sweden: Successful Reconciliation of Work and Family Life. European Platform for Investing in Children". Missing or empty
- The White House (2015). "Fact Sheet: Helping All Working Families with Young Children Afford Child Care".
- Collins, Glenn (2007). "Glimpses of Heartache, and Stories of Survival".