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Child Welfare
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation
Introduction
The welfare of children is universally appreciated by all the cultures and communities throughout the globe. In every society, raising children and preparing the children for adulthood is not just confined to parents alone, rather it is a shared commitment by the entire community. Investments in the well-being of a child by the community are reflected in legal structures, social norms, and cultural mores that sanction intervention in homes where the child is neglected and abused (Fang et al., 2012). The United States has developed strong legal frameworks that value privacy, independence, and parental rights. The right to rear children by families is protected by the nation’s legal frameworks, and it is not limited to any values the families profess. However, the limitation may only exist when there is proof of harm or danger, and the State may then move into a home to protect the child (Hacker, 2002).
The value that the society accords privacy in the United States can be an obstacle to the extent that friends and neighbors are more prone to respecting privacy than interfere in family relationships. Problems confront the efforts in effecting child welfare system from this angle in the United States, as on one hand there exists the need for moral intervention to protect a child, yet the countries legal structures bestow upon parents in the country inalienable rights. Therefore, the drive to improve the country’s system of children welfare must find equilibrium between the two.

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Some important initiatives the United States society had developed that have confronted the challenges that endanger children. The eradication of labor in children, provision of education to children with special needs, and the set up of the juvenile justice system have been big steps in the right direction in children welfare initiatives (Leone and Weinberg, 2010).
Historical Context
The United State’s response to child neglect and abuse has historically been represented by tension on two fronts. First, one that focuses on rescuing children off neglectful and abusive. Second, endeavors in supporting and preserving the families of the children. A current discourse over the importance accorded to these two competing priorities, spilled over to the press, and in corridors of knowledge. However, it should be noted that debate is quite old in the United States, and can be traced to more than a century ago. The child rescue course is shown as a long-term effort to perceive child-suffering to be from parental irresponsibility and poverty, and hence validates the removal of a child from his or her home for protection (Blank, 2002). On the other hand, the family support program improves the environmental as well as social factors that lead to child treatment, which was brought about by parental stress. During America’s colonial past, the child rescue program was evident, while family support system can be traced to its origins during the progressive movement synonymous with the early twentieth century.
The 1700s and 1800s
The English Poor Law of 1601 served as the legal basis for managing children welfare from the needy backgrounds during the colonial period (Trattner, 2007). Further, the law also pushed public responsibility for the poor and needy children down the throats of the local people of the towns. During the early century, the doctrine of parents partial, which gives the state the authority to be a guardian to children to children in abusive and neglected backgrounds. Children from very poor families received more attention from social reformers and community leaders who became alarmed on the plight of abandoned, orphaned and unsupervised children. Children of the so-called unworthy poor were kept from developing indolent ways through their separation from their guardians through indenture in certain institutions. During this age actions that were taken on behalf of a child were backed up by moral reasons, and they were also used as powerful tools for social controls.
In the 1800s, needy children were absorbed by private and charitable institutions. For example, waif hospitals were established in some communities during this period to cater for unwanted infants. Almshouses were constructed during the 19th century in a number of large cities to absorb destitute children from every age (Pelton, 1989). . These facilities provided a basic standard of care to the destitute children as a insane, diseased and poor adults. Normally when the children attained the age of 10 plus or minus two, they became indentured as laborers in families or apprenticed to develop a set of skills, as they paid for their care through free labor they offered. However, children, particular the very young ones suffered very high mortality rates while being taken care of in the almshouses. At the turn of the second half of the nineteenth century saw a rising of criticism on the impacts of unhygienic and disorganized almshouses effect on the children. Religious groups and private charities consequently established orphanages and children asylums to segregate destitute children from the adults and protect the children from exploitation, mistreatment, and diseases that the children potentially faced.
Several states went ahead to pass laws that directed children to be removed from the almshouses and instead transferred to more friendly children institutions. The welfare of needy children became a public responsibility, and the public dollars were financed children endeavors in the country. Nonetheless, private agencies provided the care as the demands of industrialization; urbanization and immigration strained many a families to the detriment of the children, who many were left unattended.
Child homelessness increasingly became intensified in the mid-1800s (Grossberg, 2002). Charles Loring Brace formed the Children’s Aid Society as a reaction to the high numbers of vagrant hungry and destitute children who were pillaging through streets in New York City. His organization was the instrument in sending over 150, 000 orphaned children to rural areas of the country, where they were absorbed by Christian homes in a period spanning three-quarters of a century, particularly in Midwest, where they were valued for their labor contributions of the farm. Moreover, local governments then had to rely on family placement to cater for the vagrant and homeless children. The most visible case was that of the state of Ohio that established fifty homes in the thirty-three year period between 1866 and 1899 to cater for wards of the state at an arrangement of a dollar per week for every child. Essentially, these homes established in the past became the forerunners of the present foster care system. In the 1700s and 1800s, destitute and poor immigrant parents were seldom compassionately treated. The parents who were facing difficult periods did not receive help, but children were seen to be suffering, they were removed from such homes.
The late 1800s to Early 1900s
The precursors to the child welfare systems that presently examine and react to child problems such as abuse and neglect were private institutions that were referred to as anticruelty organizations. In 1877, the State of New York passed a local law that catered for the welfare of children, the law specifically spelled protected children as it served to punish those did wrong to them. These legal backings gave the anticruelty societies a firm base and authorization to select children mistreated by their families. More states joined other by enacting laws that protected children at the turn of the twentieth century, and this primary laid the groundwork for the country’s juvenile justice system. The American Humane Association became the umbrella society for over 300 societies under the caucus of prevention of cruelty to children during the early 1900s, and they were particularly vibrant Northeast and Midwest areas. During the period, the vibrant private organizations often backed by private and public money investigated cases of child abuses as well as aiding courts in prosecuting cases of abuses on children. The private organizations became very powerful in the execution of their duties to the point where they were given police powers take custody of children during investigations. In the United States, it was only the State of Indiana that had weak private institutions, and head to rely primarily on its tools for the performance of these functions. The approaches of the organizations were molded differently in those states, and they varied on the emphasis they awarded the move towards rescuing of children from unsanitary environments and neglectful families while others concentrated on assisting families provide appropriate care for their children.
The Society for the prevention of cruelty in children was founded in Boston in1878, and mainly as a police, but by early 1900s, it was converted into a family stress rehabilitation and community reform organization, and it spread it wings to their entire state. The organizations began addressing pertinent issues those children in their families including poor housing conditions, food deficiency, clothing, care, unhealthy neighborhoods, and amongst others. The SPCC were later remodeled to not only champion individual cases of neglect and abuse but were also recreated to halt community neglect; this provided a solid child welfare management on the hands of a progressive social action. An approach of helping parents to take of their own children became a general progressive agenda of social reform during the early years of the 1900s. The most noticeable was the 1909 White House Conference on Children that later issued a policy statement declaring that no child should be taken from their homes, only when family conditions are difficult to construct to make the environment safe for the child. In short, this new approach was pegged on the idea that the best means of helping a child is to help the family of the child. By 1920, the Child Welfare League of America was formed with the sole purpose of promoting the notion that a countrywide child welfare system that intends to preserve the natural environment of the child as much as possible.
1920 to 1950
This period signaled the emerging welfare system in the country. During the mid-1900s, child welfare system was slowly transformed in the eyes of those concerned, from a law enforcement angle to one that considered rehabilitation through social service reforms. All the efforts in protecting the child slowly became a piece of the enlarging number of human services that were provided by different governmental agencies. At the dawn of the 1930s, and which extended to 1940s, the roles that were once the preserve of the humane societies, in turn, became the preserve of different organizations such as the Juvenile justice system, children welfare groups, and amongst others. The burgeoning recognition by local government and state government as well as municipalities of the welfare of children, even through non-uniform across the born, was a manifestation of a new era in child welfare programs.
The Social Security Act of 1935 became the first footprint of the federal government into child welfare arena. A passage in the law created the Aid to Dependent Children program that provided cash assistance to make destitute and poor single mothers cater for their children instead of losing their custody to the state. Another smaller passage in the law provided a certain amount of funding to the states to enhance protective and preventive measures to children defined as vulnerable. However, it is a well-known fact that the state government diverted these funds to provide supportive services to families that remained with their children at home.
1960 to 1980
With the advancement in medicine during the mentioned above, public attention was diverted to the evidence that could be presented in case adults inflicted injuries on children, particularly from caregivers, guardians, and parents. The period heralded a moment when child neglect and abuse became issues of prime importance to the nation, and the part the played by different government agencies in identifying and reacting to the issue stretched significantly. In 1974, a federal law, the Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act was passed, and this law encouraged states to pass laws that demanded caregivers to identify children within their jurisdiction who needed protection. Further, the law directed public social service departments to investigate and report cases of maltreatment of children while at the same time keep track of cases (Hussey, Chang, and Kotch, 2006).
The law established the National Center on Child Neglect and Abuse that creates standards for responding and receiving maltreatment reports. Backed by burgeoning public recognition of child maltreatment, the federal government assisted in the establishment of a countrywide child welfare system that encompassed individual state laws that required reporting of neglect, exploitation, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Also, the law provided grants to help states that met federal standards in the development of child welfare programs; however, the funds were too limited to be of any value in the provision of extensive service programs. A year later, United States Congress passed the Title Ten of the Social Security Act that provided the states with resources that they could use to tackle children social service needs. At the end of the 1970s, 75% of the allocated child welfare funds were diverted to foster care, than the provision of services to preserve and support families.
The 1980s to Present
The growth in public awareness of children welfare intensified beginning 1980s and the reports of child maltreatment were acted upon with vigor and purpose. Reports indicated that children who were officially reported as neglect and abused rose by more than 347 percent (Magura and Moses, 1986). The increase in the number of neglected children alarmed the government and concerned parties and stressed the need for a children welfare system that responsive. The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act soon followed, perhaps in response to the reported cases mentioned earlier. This law strengthened the links between several organizations, private and public that oversaw children in foster care as well as those that are under the juvenile justice system. These policy changes contained in various laws have been implemented invariably. Family Preservation and Family Support Program was the other initiative in the last three decades by the central government in addressing the perilous child welfare systems countrywide. The program has been instrumental in providing monies to assist communities to build a system of preventive and crisis involvement services for vulnerable families and their children. Significantly, the funding is issued by the priorities and needs of local communities that were identified through a broad process for the development of state programs for using the limited federal funds.
Ideologies and Theories
The development of child welfare systems in the United States much like in Europe has relied on two pertinent theories: systems theory and complexity theory. A complexity theory applies to a complex adaptive system, whereas a systems theory relies on the knowledge on the components parts of a system and through the analysis of how the different parts interact with one another (Stevens and Cox, 2008). This means that if an intervention is applied on a single part, this will be replicated predictably on another part of the system. A systems theory relies on an approach that alerts a caregiver on the likelihood of other means of attaining a similar object, and this reduces the stigma that can arise from the diversity of behavior and social institution that some psychological theories that relies on deviance trends and normality.
Families as social groups consist of agents that interact with each other in very many ways to constitute complex adaptive systems (Stevens and Cox, 2008). Through drawing of concepts in self-organization, it can be shown that the behavior is a product of an interaction between the environment and agents, the results of individual activities. This means that an individual’s behavior has an impact on others, and yet the individual’s behavior is the result of their interactions with the environment. It is through these interactions that a family can self-organize and the factors that lead a child to be vulnerable with his or her family or group unit, and this can be conceptualized as an own-self-organizing system. Self-organization provides more knowledge on the problems involved in forecasting occurrences that include abuse on children and helps caregivers to look for another ontological approach when working with a child welfare system (Roberts, 2002).
A practitioner in trying to work an approach of risk investigation in child welfare from a position of increasing the risks factors is through the application of linear understanding. A linear understanding can be constructed in the following format; A plus B is always equal to C, and the complexity theory proposes that it is not an adequate means of dealing with intricate situations that include assessment of the harm to children. A direct result of the creation of a complex adaptive system that does not follow the linear process, of A plus B being equal to C, rather it can lead to either D, E, F or even to nothing. The complexity theory provides for the growth of indicative models and not the predictive models of risk. The presences of some occurrences are certain; for instance, the injury of a child while under the care of caregivers in a certain year. Events are very difficult to predict, much like storms, which are difficult to predict. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 federal law connects and relatives, and improves results for children in foster care and the adoption access as well as improving incentives for the adoption processes. The policy was made in conformity to the complex adaptive systems. The emergence concept s vital in complexity theory, and a group behavior on a small scale shows the environment within which it is embossed. This can then suggest that while behavior grows in what seems to be a disordered means while it is actually responding to the laws of complexity.
The concepts of bifurcation, dissipative structure and attractors are very important when considering the safety of children. These terms are associated to the aspect of the complexity theory that tells people of the complexity as the domain that exists at the end of chaos. A dissipative system is fundamentally unpredictable and can potentially lead to changes and shifts.
Ideas and Suggestions for Possible Future Action
According to Wang and Holton (2007), the cost of abuse and neglect of children far outweighs the cost of providing care for them. Children that are in need of care are part of a complex adaptive system, and this paper suggests that providing safe care children in any establishment leads to the creation of extreme difficulties in the system around a child (Wright and Seymour, 2000). The systems are self-organizing and push towards order, although they may be prone to sudden shifts. The shifts or changes in the system around the child shall be influenced by attractors that function to provide the system a border, even if such a border might be unstable. A complex adaptive system has an arrangement, and arrangement displays a range of probable results that can be shown, but cannot be forecasted. Certainly, part of the results shall remain invisible, but given the flexible and live system of the complex adaptive system, a non-linear analysis seems appropriate. The history of child welfare system began on humble foundations and grew steadily with the advancement of technologies and new ways of life. Legislature remains the child potent weapon in consolidating vital reforms in child welfare systems. To date both state and non-state actors must work together and consolidate the gains that have been made in child welfare development over the years. The focus should be on the long-term in promoting reforms in child welfare systems. The legislators perform an important function in fostering development in the status of the child welfare system throughout. During the times of transitions, legislative policies can enhance the objectives and approaches of such long-term government-led reforms. The public remains a crucial segment that supports child welfare system in the country, and their effective engagement can help in thwart child neglect and abuse.

References
Blank, R. M. (2002). Evaluating welfare reform in the United States (No. w8983). National Bureau of Economic Research.
Fang, X., Brown, D. S., Florence, C. S., & Mercy, J. A. (2012). The economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States and implications for prevention. Child abuse & neglect, 36(2), 156-165
Grossberg, M. (2002). Changing conceptions of child welfare in the United States, 1820-1935’. A century of juvenile justice, 3-41.
Hacker, J. S. (2002). The divided welfare state: The battle over public and private social benefits in the United States. Cambridge University Press.
Hussey, J. M., Chang, J. J., & Kotch, J. B. (2006). Child maltreatment in the United States: Prevalence, risk factors, and adolescent health consequences.Pediatrics, 118(3), 933-942.
Leone, P. E., & Weinberg, L. A. (2010). Addressing the unmet educational needs of children and youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Georgetown University, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.
Magura, S., & Moses, B. S. (1986). Outcome measures for child welfare services: Theory and applications. Child Welfare League of Amer.
Pelton, L. H. (1989). For reasons of poverty: A critical analysis of the public child welfare system in the United States. Praeger Publishers.
Roberts, D. (2002). Shattered bonds: The color of child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 24(11), 877-880.
Trattner, W. I. (2007). From poor law to welfare state: A history of social welfare in America. Simon and Schuster.
Stevens, I., & Cox, P. (2008). Complexity theory: Developing new understandings of child protection in field settings and in residential child care.British Journal of Social Work, 38(7), 1320-1336.
Wang, C. T., & Holton, J. (2007). Total estimated cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States. Chicago, IL: Prevent Child Abuse America.
Wright, L., & Seymour, C. (2000). Working with children and families separated by incarceration: A handbook for child welfare agencies. Child Welfare League of Amer.

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