Critical Issues in Child Welfare

Critical Issues in Child Welfare

Joan Shireman
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Critical Issues in Child Welfare
    Book Description:

    What role can and should social work play in child welfare services? Responding to what many consider a crisis in the child welfare system, Critical Issues in Child Welfare is a comprehensive overview of the policies, programs, and practices that define the field, with an emphasis on the role of social work.

    Joan Shireman looks at the community context of child welfare, noting changes over time, and the role of social work in the development of services to children and families. Next, she establishes a framework for child welfare services and examines the complexities of the system and its relationships to public and voluntary agencies and the judicial system. Finally, the book surveys core services, including supportive services to families, child protection, foster care and other out-of-home care, adoption, and services to at-risk youth. Each chapter concludes with a section identifying and exploring a critical issue in child welfare services, such as family violence, permanency planning, racism in the system, child care, and the recruitment, education, and retention of child welfare workers.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50901-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. About the Contributors
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Social Work and Child Welfare
    (pp. 1-12)

    Child welfare is a specialized area of practice within which the values and skills of social work are implemented. Historically the fields of child welfare and social work have been intertwined, sometimes overlapping substantially—as in the time of the founding of juvenile courts or of child labor reform—and sometimes moving apart. Today child welfare seems to be moving apart from social work; a narrow definition of child welfare as a specialized field, focused on the protection of children, may exacerbate that separation.

    One of the critical issues in the field of child welfare today is its definition. Some...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The Context of Child Welfare Services
    (pp. 13-51)

    As a new millennium begins, there is increasing recognition that the solutions to social problems lie within their broad societal context. Thus the task of promoting the welfare of the child demands a focus broader than the child, or even the child and family. The community provides the cultural and value framework within which families function, and it may or may not provide sufficient supports to enable the family to function adequately. Socioeconomic, cultural, and political forces combine to create a complex and ever-changing mix of demand, opportunity, barriers, and resources. Policy affecting the lives of children and families is...

  7. CHAPTER 2 A Framework for Child Welfare Services
    (pp. 52-88)

    The first chapter explored the changing nature of the problems that the community recognizes as affecting the welfare of children. This chapter is about attempts to intervene to alleviate some of those problems.

    The framework within which child welfare services are delivered has three components. One is the value system of both the community and the professionals delivering services. Another is the legal framework: laws, court decisions, and policy developed to implement this legal framework. The third might be called the conceptual framework—the ideas that flow from logical analysis of policy, from the wisdom of practice, and from the...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Child Welfare Services System
    (pp. 89-127)
    Katharine Cahn

    A primary function of child welfare services is the protection of children. Agencies plan for safety and provide services that establish children in safe, nurturing, and permanent homes—if possible, as part of their original families. The principal provider of these services is the public child welfare agency. The public agency does not operate alone, however. To accomplish its task, the agency sometimes contracts with other agencies for family preservation, foster, and/or adoptive services, refers families to other organizations for services, and works closely with law enforcement and the courts. Additionally, those working in the child welfare system must work...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Community Services for Children and Families
    (pp. 128-162)
    Karen Tvedt

    The community services that support the functioning of children and families are interfacing systems. Many public systems, such as education and health systems, are used by virtually all families with children, and many private institutions, such as religious and recreational programs, have points of contact with them. A large number of families in contact with the child welfare system are involved in the justice system, and a great many are in need of income maintenance or income supplements, as well as child care. Navigating a path among these systems, each with its own policies and procedures, can be daunting. There...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Crisis Intervention: Child Protection and Family Preservation
    (pp. 163-197)

    This chapter is about families in which the children are at risk. Either children have been harmed through their caretakers’ abuse or neglect, or children are at risk of harm. These are children who need immediate action for their protection. In this chapter we are nearing the top of the pyramid described in chapter 4 and considering very intensive services needed by a relatively small proportion of families. We are also considering the very center of child welfare services.

    Downs, Moore, et al. (2000:218–19) note that child protection services are distinct from other child welfare services in several important...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Investment in Foster Care
    (pp. 198-249)

    At the heart of the difficulties of the child welfare system are the difficulties of the foster care system: a shortage of foster homes, questions about the quality of care children are getting in some foster homes, the system’s inability or unwillingness to provide needed support services to foster homes, and above all, uncertainty about the function of foster care within the child welfare system. Society’s main response to difficulties with foster care has been an attempt to diminish its role; legislation and funding are targeted to promote family preservation and procedures that move children out of foster care and...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Expanding the Foster Care System: Other Types of Out-of-Home Care
    (pp. 250-287)

    Traditional family foster care is the most frequently used type of out-of-home placement. Homes of relatives have become an important resource. Some children need extra help to manage family living, and some require the structure of group care.

    Out-of-home care settings should encompass kinship care, family foster care, treatment foster care, emergency shelter care, apartments, community based group homes, campus style facilities, self-contained group care settings, and secure facilities. Within these settings children and their families should be able to obtain an appropriate mix of services, including counseling, education, health, nutrition, daily living experiences, independent living skills, reunification services, aftercare...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Adoption
    (pp. 288-344)

    Adoption is a legal procedure by which a permanent family is created for a child. Adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities of natural parents. Although there are three parties to every adoption—the child, the birth parents, and the adoptive parents—adoption is child-centered, focused on meeting the needs of the child. At its best, it also meets the needs of adopting parents who have wanted a child, and the needs of the original parents who are relieved of responsibilities they were not in a position to assume. Reitz and Watson (1992 ) have defined adoption as


  14. CHAPTER 9 At-Risk Youth
    (pp. 345-382)
    Charles Shireman

    The child welfare system historically worked with young people until they were established as adults. As a consequence of narrowing its mission, that is, focusing on protective services for vulnerable young children, public child welfare now offers relatively little in the way of services to adolescents, unless they have been taken into care in earlier years. However, adolescents are also at a vulnerable point in their lives, at a point of transition from the relatively protected status of childhood toward the independence of adult life. This is a difficult transition. It is a time when decisions can have lifelong consequences....

  15. CHAPTER 10 Concluding Thoughts
    (pp. 383-412)

    In this book I have sought to outline the policy framework of child welfare services. A broad conception of child welfare has been used; having worked and studied in the field for more than four decades, I am reluctant to see the older, traditional definition of child welfare pass away. I have tried to describe the policy initiatives and services that make up the child welfare system, and to place them in a historical context and in the context of our current communities. The review of research is reasonably thorough, for I believe that empirical data provide the best means...

  16. Appendix: Internet Resources
    (pp. 413-414)
  17. Index
    (pp. 415-436)