CHILD WELFARE: ORIENTATION AND SCOPE
The term child welfare in a general sense has very broad connotations. If we include under the term every activity that either directly or indirectly promotes the welfare of children, we would end by including most of the significant activities engaged in by society.
The sanitary engineer working toward the organization of a physically healthier environment for children, the traffic engineer working toward the reduction of automobile accidents, the research scientist studying congenital anomalies, and the military specialist guarding the country from attack--all promote the welfare of children, and thus these activities may be subsumed under a general definition of child welfare. Carstens ( 1937) notes that "child welfare has in the course of time acquired a significance that is so broad and vague that it has come to be applied to almost every effort in social and community work that is likely to benefit children" (p. 64* ).
A more specific and more meaningful definition of child welfare is based on the fact that society has granted to the profession of social work responsibility for helping to resolve many of the problem situations encountered by children. In its narrower sense, child welfare is regarded as a field of social work practice. Because it is of the genus social work, it shares the characteristics of the genus. To clarify the nature of child welfare, therefore, we must attempt to delineate the normative characteristics of social work. The following illustration may be of help.
Nine years ago Mrs. F., then unmarried, gave birth to a boy and placed him in the home of a childless married couple whom she knew well. She then left town. Her friends raised the boy as their own, although they never legally adopted him. When Mrs. F. married, she told her husband of her out-of-wedlock____________________