It is difficult to classify protective services neatly as either supportive, supplementary, or substitutive. Protective services are called upon in a variety of situations, characterized by a similar factor: neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a child. The protective service agency is organized around the nature of the problem and uses a wide variety of services--supportive, supplementary, and substitutive--in trying to help the family deal with it. The agency may seek to protect the child by strengthening the home (supportive), by supplementing the parent's own efforts to care for the child (supplementary), or by removing the child from the home and placing him in another home (substitutive). Initially, however, activity is directed toward maintaining the neglected or abused child in his own home. Consequently, protective services may be classified as among the services to children in their own home.
The Children's Division of the American Humane Association, the national body coordinating the work of protective agencies, defines protective service as a specialized child-welfare "service to neglected, abused, exploited, or rejected children. The focus of the service is preventive and nonpunitive and is geared toward rehabilitatio through identification and treatment of the motivating factors which underlie" the problem ( DeFrancis, 1955, p. 2). Protective service is
based on law and is supported by community standards. Its purpose is protection of children through strengthening the home or, failing that, making plans for their care and custody through the courts. . . . [It is] a service on behalf of children undertaken by an agency upon receipt of information which indicates that parental responsibility toward those children is not being effectively met [ Canadian Welfare Council, 1954, p. 8].
The problems with which the protective agencies are concerned arise from gross parental inadequacy in role performance and from active role rejection. The parent may be present but incapable of caring for the child, or unwilling to do so. Under the concept of parens patriae, the state has an obligation, as a "parent" to all children, to defend the rights of the child. The problem, however, is to avoid "infringing on the rights of the general parent population while simultaneously insuring the rights of a specific child" ( Boardman, 1963, p. 8). One might, how-