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Analysis of Child Welfare Services

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Child welfare agencies are in charge of ensuring the safety, stability and the overall well-being of children who have been either abused, neglected or children who are at risk of abuse and neglect. Services are provided by states and counties to include services for children and families for the prevention of abuse and neglect. Children have been essential to the development of welfare programs in the United States (Gordon, 2018). It was and still is crucial to show sympathy to the poor and neglected children to break through the free-market of individualism that has repeatedly been condemned as public aid to needy children. Poverty has often been diagnosed as a product of an individual corrupt character. There has been a distinction between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor which led to a fear that might encourage immorality. Until the early 20th century, provisions for children in need were primarily local and private.

During the colonial period, the responsibility for children came when they were orphans. However, many of these children were not orphans but had at least one parent in the household who were unable to take care of their children. While there were people to care for the younger children, the older children had to work for their other families. By 1800 there were seven orphanages in the United States. In the 1830s there were 23 orphanages and more than 70 orphanages by the 1850s (Gordon, 2018). Most of the orphanages were run by charity and religious groups. During this time the orphanages were expected to provide minimum food and shelter but instill good character by expressing sobriety, hard work, and self-resilience. They practiced strict discipline, scheduling, physical punishment for orphans to understand the values the orphanages held. There is a long history that emphasizes the U.S child welfare system on child protection and ensuring the safety of children.

The history of child welfare systems has been characterized into two categories: maintenance of the family and safety of the child shifting back and forth. The family maintenance policy is an insurance policy term referring to the life of a breadwinner providing income that includes an amount after the death of the insured. The shifts in balancing families refer to the values of political landscaping, and by events. A key-person concerned with the well-being of children is John Bowlby (Cassidy, Jones, & Shaver, 2013). He believed that the overall well-being and protection of a child would affect the attachment of children as they got older. If children did not have a good relationship with their caretakers it could affect the attachment theory process negatively. A study of Maas and Engler’s Children in Need Parents done in 1995 showed that children who stayed in foster care for long periods often did not have visits with their natural-born parents and developed behavioral problems as a result (Jordan & Connelly, 2016). These findings suggested that the behavioral problems developed because of the abuse and neglect by their parents and the system. Based on these findings’ goals have been developed such as the Social Security Act, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare and Adoption and Safe Families Act, etc.

The beginning of the federal involvement in child welfare started with the social security act in 1935. This act established a system of benefits for workers, benefits for victims of business accidents, unemployment coverage as well as ai for dependent mothers, the blind, and the physically handicapped. The social security act helps people and children survive and be a part of a livable environment (Social Security Act, 2013). The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974 was an important policy because it covered the scope of both national and state levels. The federal funding for this act helped support the development of reporting child abuse that was required for states to follow specific procedures for managing and identifying the well-being of a child. In 1980 the federal agencies put in place the adoption assistance and child welfare act. This policy specifies whether the children could be involuntarily removed or separated from the parents. The obligations of the state support families and parents in the efforts to care for their children safely. The last one I listed was the Adoption and Safe Families Act. In 1997 this act was made for child protection and safety of the children. The goal of this act supported permanency for the children (Petersen, Joseph, & Feit, 2014). This federal law eased the adoption process when reunification was not possible. If necessary, caseworkers could pursue other arrangements for the safety of the child.

These social changes and acts were put in place after the history of children being abused and neglected. As mentioned before the orphanages at one point were increasing with strict rules, children were working just to be a part of a family and have shelter. Children need to have a safe environment to grow up with shelter and food to stay healthy. Reading about how parents were unfit and unable to take care of their children, abusive parents, parents addicted to drugs and alcohol, or abandoned their child makes one think about the child’s future. By implementing federal laws regarding children safety gives the children a second chance at life as well as a chance to break the cycle. Four main sets of services are provided from child welfare agencies: child protection investigation, family-centered services and supports, foster care and adoption. Child welfare services are put in place to embrace the systems of care.

By looking at history patterns on children and comparing the statistics of unemployment, poverty levels, parental households, the mental state of parents, etc., we will be able to advocate for children who need us. By doing research and having knowledge about these topics and understanding the services provided and federal acts in place, as human service professionals, we can inform the parents or guardians of this information. Child welfare services have multiple benefits for children and families including reduced health and mental health care costs, reduced personal and family stress, improve the social functioning of children, improved physical health and mental health improvement as well as educational achievements. These services are not only to better the safety of the children but the entire family. Child welfare services consider everyone involved in a child’s life and make a plan that would be best for the child first but that can also help out the family as a whole. They take the necessary precaution to ensure safety across the board.

It is important for all parties involved in a child’s life to be aware of information that affects them. Although we want the best for the children and family, it must be the best outcome for the child. A child must have shelter, a safe environment, a place where they can consider a safe zone to speak and focus on their education while eating a well-balanced meal. All these things are detrimental when considering the overall well being of a child. Social change starts with us. For change to happen we have to be aware of the problems with our children in our community and also reflect on ourselves. We need to know if what we are doing is helping or harming our children in the community. By reflecting on ourselves we can reach other people in the community on ways to make the world better for our children.


  1. Cassidy, J., Jones, D. J., & Shaver, P. R. (2013). Contributions of Attachment Theory and Research: A Framework for Future Research, Translation, and Policy. Development and psychopathology, 1415-1434.
  2. Gordon, L. (2018). Child Welfare: A Brief History. Social Welfare History Project, 1-3.
  3. Jordan, E., & Connelly, D. D. (2016). An Introduction to Child Welfare Funding, and How States Use It. Child Trends, 1-10.
  4. Martin, M. E. (2018). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings. Pearson.
  5. Petersen, A. C., Joseph, J., & Feit, M. (2014). New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research. In A. C. Petersen, J. Joseph, & M. Feit, The Child Welfare System (pp. 175-244). Washington, DC: The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine.
  6. Social Security Act. (2013, January 14). Retrieved from Legal Counsel House:

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