Beyond Common Sense: Child Welfare, Child Well-Being, and the Evidence for Policy Reform By Richard Barth, Brenda Jones Harden, John Landsverk, Fred Wulczyn (Editor), and Ying-Ying T. Yuan. Softcover/227 pages/Aldine Transaction, a Division ofTransaction Publisher. First edition. 2005/ISBN 0-202-30735-2 List Price $26.95
Helping vulnerable children develop their full potential is an attractive idea with broad commonsense appeal. But child well-being as a social policy concept is ill-defined in the current legislative mandate that funds child welfare policies. This book offers useful insights into the child welfare system that will be of particular interest to policymakers, social workers, child advocates, and academics with an interest in child welfare policies.
Before the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, safety and permanency were the two main determinants on whether the child welfare system was doing a good job in fulfilling its mandate. Since the ASFA's passage, well-being has been moving closer to the center of the debate guiding the child welfare reform. It's no surprise that child welfare policymakers would turn to well-being as an important deciding factor.
The thrust of the well-being argument is that policy should be evidencebased, and evidence takes up much of this book. Because policymakers have to make decisions that allocate resources, a basic understanding of incidence in the public health tradition is important, as is evidence on what works …