Kids Raised by the Government

By Ira M. Schwartz; Gideon Fishman | Go to book overview

is to be provided, we must make sure it is provided to those who absolutely need it. We must also be willing to invest in high quality aftercare and transition services and semi-independent and independent living arrangements. This will help insure that educational and treatment gains made during a child's residential experience are maintained and built upon when they are returned to the community.

In addition, the federal government must develop an aggressive effort to inform and educate child welfare administrators, state and local elected public officials, child advocates, the media, and professional associations as to what is known about child care institutions, their effectiveness and what role they should play in a twenty-first century child welfare system. Child welfare administrators and policymakers in the states should also carefully examine the costs and benefits of the child care institutions in their child welfare systems. If they find results similar to our findings in Michigan, they should make a concerted attempt to reform and restructure this component of their system.

There is much support nationally for "de-categorizing," funds and giving child welfare administrators more flexibility to use resources to meet the needs of children and families. While this idea has merit, more flexibility in the hands of officials in jurisdictions where they might be inclined to use more costly and ineffective service options and where officials may be easily manipulated by political pressure to maintain the status quo will only exacerbate an already deeply rooted problem. Restricting funds for specific purposes, or categorization, was originally designed to insure that resources were used for specific purposes. While this idea seems no longer to be in vogue in child welfare, broad discretion regarding how funds are used may contribute to more problems than might be solved. Efforts to increase discretion should not eliminate safeguards against the overuse of institutional care and the development of incentives to promote permanency for all children regardless of whether they are in an institution or some other kind of out-of-home care.

Whatever child welfare reform strategies are implemented to both limit the use of and improve the quality and effectiveness of institutional care should draw upon the best available research. They should also be carefully studied in order to improve management and treatment intervention decisions. Any plan to reduce institutional placements should include collecting data on all children who are placed in institutions in order to see how long they are in such care, to find out whether they eventually move to a permanent home, and to explore whether alternative and less costly services can adequately meet their needs.


REFERENCES

Caldwell D. W. ( 1993, May 10). Memorandum to county directors and district office managers regarding the county performance report for the quarter ending December 1992. Lansing: Mchigan Department of Social Services.

Durkin R. P., and Durkin A. B. ( 1975). Evaluating residential treatment programs for disturbed children. In M. Guttentag and M. Struening (Eds.), Handbook of evaluation research (vol. 2). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

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Kids Raised by the Government
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • List of Tables and Figures 7
  • Preface 9
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Chapter 1 - A Wake-Up Call for the Child Welfare System 15
  • References 34
  • Chapter 2 - Child Welfare Reform: An Elusive Goal 37
  • References 49
  • Chapter 3 - The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act: Good Intentions Gone Awry 53
  • References 68
  • Chapter 4 - Adopted: Who is and Who Isn't? 71
  • References 85
  • Chapter 5 - Child Welfare and Delinquency: Between Compassion and Control 87
  • References 101
  • Chapter 6 - The Role of Residential Care 103
  • References 115
  • Chapter 7 - Public Policy and Child Welfare: Agenda for the 21st Century 117
  • References 142
  • Index 145
  • About the Authors *
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