The view that social science should be directed toward the solution of contemporary social problems and the amelioration of society's ills is increasingly accepted among researchers. This is especially true among developmental psychologists because developmental psychology, which is concerned with the study of children and families, has by its very nature practical applications and relevance.
During the past two decades our society has undergone vast technological, economic, and demographic changes. These changes have virtually transformed social conditions and have given rise to a rapid and continuous expansion of unresolved problems faced by children in every socioeconomic sector. Examples of these problems are high infant mortality rates, poor health care for pregnant women and children, teenage pregnancy, and depression and suicide among youth. Other problems are escalating divorce rates and the trends toward single‐ parent families and the care and socialization of infants and young children for a large portion of time by caregivers who are nonrelatives. All of these contribute to stresses on family life.
The problems faced by children are pervasive and national in scope; their solution requires that action be taken at every level of government. Federal support for social programs for children and families has grown, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, but we are now also aware of some of the limitations of government action and of the importance of incorporating scientific methods and principles into the social policy decision-making process, in order to ensure the effectiveness of social services. Although applied developmental psychologists and other social scientists increasingly recognize the critical role of social science