Sites and Services: Programs That Meet the Challenges
Chapter 3 identified a range of reasons why it is difficult for welfare agencies to offer services that take children's needs seriously into account: the current mission and job structure of welfare agencies, the isolation of welfare agencies from many services to children, the nature of family needs, and the quality of service delivery required to respond successfully to those needs. At the same time, however, the chapter identified dear opportunities for welfare agencies to respond to those needs more effectively than most now do. Specifically, welfare agencies seem a natural intake point for families, they employ large numbers of workers who know quite a bit about family circumstances and may well want to do more for recipients than their current jobs allow, and their administrators are currently rethinking their agency mandate as a consequence of the Family Support Act.
The sites support the conjecture that despite all the difficulties, it is nonetheless possible for a welfare agency to pay attention to the needs of children in welfare families and provide services that meet those needs. Despite the many difficulties, the sites generally succeeded at providing high-quality services to families and children in a wide variety of urban and rural settings, in both state- and county-operated welfare systems, and for different AFDC populations.
This chapter offers brief descriptions of the services offered to children by the study sites in order to provide a sense of the options currently being explored within the welfare system. The descriptions use the present tense to offer a snapshot of the sites as they were when we visited in the summer and fall of 1989, even though services and programs have been changed, added, and eliminated since that time. (For more detail, see the site case