Kids Raised by the Government

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

CHAPTER 7
Public Policy and Child Welfare: Agenda for the 21st Century

The history of child welfare is littered with well-intentioned but largely failed reform efforts. Despite the billions in federal, state, and local dollars poured into child welfare systems annually, media scandals and class action lawsuits, state and federal inquiries into child welfare services, the recommendations of national standard-setting organizations, and the efforts of private foundations and child advocacy groups, no state or county has been recognized for having a model system.

Child welfare systems have insatiable appetites. They can absorb almost any amount of money thrown at them by federal and state elected public officials, particularly those being pressured to do something about child maltreatment complaints or class action lawsuits stemming from abusive and unprofessional practices. Hagedorn, a respected academic who took time off from the ivory tower to join a team charged with reforming the infamous child welfare system in Milwaukee, believes that public child welfare systems arc pernicious because of the way they manage to thrive, even in a difficult fiscal environment when other services are being cut back. He also thinks the administrators of some of these agencies have become adept at getting their way. For example, they will often scare politicians by implying that children may die or there may be scandals and lawsuits if they don't get more money for more child protective service and foster care workers. Hagedom feels these tactics have improved the job market for child welfare workers and expanded child welfare bureaucracies, but have had little impact on improving the quality and effectiveness of services to abused and neglected children ( Hagedorn, 1995).

Although this is a discouraging picture, we cannot give up. We must keep trying to develop new and more effective strategies for reform. The traditional approaches have not served us well, and they are not likely to serve us well in the future. Also, as we contemplate the kinds of initiatives needed to reform

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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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