Social Policies for Children

Social Policies for Children

Social Policies for Children

Social Policies for Children


Successful social policies for children are critical to America's future. Yet the status of children in America suggests that the nation's policies may not be serving them well. Infant and child mortality rates in the United States remain high compared with those of other western industrialized nations; child poverty rates have worsened in the past decade; and poor health care, child abuse, and inadequate schooling and child care persist. In this book, a group of renowned scholars presents a new set of social policies designed to alleviate these problems and to help satisfy the needs of all children. The policies deal with the most important domains affecting children from birth through the passage to adulthood: child care, schooling, transition to work, health care, income security, physical security, and child abuse. Although nearly everyone agrees that children are in trouble, there is considerable debate over what kind of trouble they are in, why this is so, and whether government can or should more actively seek to solve these problems. Americans are evenly divided on the question of whether children's problems are more economic or moral in origin. The seven proposals in this volume both reflect and cut across ideological disagreements. Some for more government, others for less; but all call for different government methods for achieving socially agreed-upon goals to help America's children.


Social policies that succeed in helping children to achieve their potential are critical to our nation's future, both because a humane society owes this consideration to its most vulnerable members and as a means of developing human capital to ensure that American industries can compete around the world. Yet the status of children in the United States suggests that the nation's policies may not be serving them well. Infant and child mortality rates remain high; the proportion of children in poverty is high and increasing; the number of children who cannot read or calculate or think abstractly is unacceptable for the Information Age.

Social Policies for Children puts forth concrete, original proposals to address seven problems: poverty or income insecurity, poor schooling, inadequate child care, difficulties in moving from school to work, insufficient health care, lack of physical security, and child abuse. the proposals, each written by an expert in the field, would, if effected, make a significant difference in the lives of children.

These proposals grew out of a conference entitled Social Policies for Children that was held at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University on May 25-27, 1994. the conference was sponsored by James D. Wolfensohn, Inc.; the Foundation for Child Development; the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Brookings Institution; and through an anonymous foundation grant.

The authors are grateful to Glenn Loury, William Galston, and Patrick Fagan for participating in the conference and for providing insight into the ethical conflicts that underlie the continuing debate over social policies for children. They also thank colleagues on the Princeton faculty--Timothy Besley, Jameson Doig, Amy Gutmann, Maria Hanratty, Alan Krueger, Kristin Luker, and Deanna Pagnini--who chaired the sessions and summarized the papers with skill and grace.

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