Every society responds to its social needs in peculiar way. This way specifies the state of social welfare.
According to Walter I. Trattner, the basic tenets and programs of any social welfare system reflect the values of the society in which system functions. Like all other social institutions, social welfare systems do not arise in a vacuum; they stem from the customs, statues, and practices of the past. Therefore, one cannot understand current efforts to help the needy without first comprehending the foundations on which they were built (Trattner 1).
The aim of social welfare is to fit financial, social and health requirements of society. According to Charles Zastrow, the business of social welfare are: to find homes for parentless children; to rehabilitate people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs; to treat those with emotional difficulties; to make life more meaningful for older adults; to provide vocational rehabilitation services to persons with a physical or mental disability; to meet the financial needs of the poor; to rehabilitate juveniles and adults who have committed criminal offenses; to end all types of discrimination and oppression (Zastrow 2).
Rosaline Ambrosino, Joseph Jefferman, Guy Shuttlesworth and Robert Ambrosino stated that a broad definition of social welfare could incorporate all organized societal responses that promoted the social well-being of a population: education, health, rehabilitation, protective services for adults and children, public assistance, social insurance, services for those with physical and mental disabilities, job-training programs, marriage counseling, adoption, and numerous other related activities designed to promote social well-being (Ambrosino & Jefferman & Scuttlesworth & Ambrosino 4).
Policy of social welfare in the United States of America had changed since the time of the first settlers. Much of nowadays social welfare reflects system of colonial American times, which is borrowed from Elizabeth England.
Walter I. Trattner stated that of all social welfare activities, none was deemed more important than those dealing with children (Trattner 108).
Child welfare includes foster care, adoption services and child protection. In the U.S. charitable organizations, private business and churches play large role in helping families with children. They provide financial support, take care of little children, and provide psychosocial support for parents and children in difficult situations. Many people do it on a volunteer basis.
Peter J. Pecora, James K. Whittaker, Anthony N. Maluccio and Richard P. Barth stated that there was one primary goal and two secondary goals for child welfare services. The primary goal was to protect children from harm. The second goal was to preserve existing family units (Pecora & Whittaker & Maluccio & Barth 6).
Walter I. Trattner stated that early-nineteenth-century reformers, A.I.C.P. agents, charity organizations, society friendly visitors, house residents, and almost every other agency or individual working for social betterment saw in children the possibility for constructive altruism (Trattner 108).
United States of America is one of the most significant countries of the child’s protection. There are many laws passed in the interest of children in the U.S. There are plenty of laws that provide parents’ responsibility for violations of children’s rights. Domestic violence is considered as a serious crime. Each state has its own program of children protection from adults’ abuse. School staff and medical facilities are required to report about any child abuse. But from the colonial period till the nineteenth century childhood was not viewed as specific phase of development. Children were considered as miniature adults. Therefore, they needed strict treatment in order to grow up and have upright lives.
Child welfare has long and interesting history. In 1655, there were many criminal court cases that involved child abuse.
By the mid of eighteenth century, the Americans had begun to accept theories of John Locke, who considered that children were not an evil. Century later, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau proclaimed that children were inborn good and pure, even morally predominant adults. The idea of “Christian Nurture” emerged at that time. According to it, children were amenable creatures, who could gain salvation through loving, good example, healthful environment. Friedrich Froebel argued idea that children were the miniature of grown-ups. He stated that child needed especial preparation for adulthood.
In 1880 Pediatric Section was organized by the American Medical Association. The American Pediatric Society was created nine years later.
According to Walter I.Trattner, only after the 1830s, people began to demand the removal of children from almshouses, when the number of such places multiplied. Many of the states had started to establish public school systems and even to enact compulsory school attendance laws. The chances of children to receive an education outside an institution were far greater than they had earlier (Trattner 114).
In 1853, Reverend Charles Loring Brace, who was a twenty-seven-year-old missioner in New York’s notorious Five Points District, founded first children’s organization to adopt family care. Its policy was the New York Children’s Aid Society. Barbara W. White stated that early efforts to meet the needs of dependent children were run by religious and private charity organizations. The aid from the society was provided until additional assistance was needed resulting in the public/private mix of child welfare. It was rooted in social work and the need for professionals to intervene in the lives of troubled children and their families (White 145).
In 1853, the Children’s Aid Society was created in order to solve problem of abandoned children in New York.
It is a curious fact that activists of animal’s rights begun to protect children’s rights. Mary Ellen Wilson went to the police and stated that she was suffering from the cruelty of the adoptive parents in the early 1870s. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals made a stand for Mary. The lawyer said at the trial that children, like animals, were in need of protection. It was proved that the girl was almost daily beaten; she slept on the floor, etc. The adoptive mother was sentenced to the year of corrective labor. Then, in 1874, New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was created in New York.
With increasing number of child’s crime, the first full-fledged juvenile court was created in Chicago in 1899. Court’s object was to avoid the stamp of crime by creating a new mechanism for coping with child offenders.
Children’s Bureau was created in the U.S. in 1912. Its task was to protect the interests of children. Child welfare had attracted much attention because of charities and church organizations. They drew public attention to the facts that children lived in awful conditions, they suffered from hard work and poor hygiene. As a result, they died of diseases and injuries that could be prevented. Firstly the Bureau was part of the Department of Commerce and Labor, now it is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Its task is to prevent the child abuse.
According to Walter I. Trattner, funded initially in 1958 by the National Institute of Mental Health, Mobilization for Youth consisted of remedial educational work, manpower training programs, employment bureaus, antidiscrimination activities, and neighborhood social and service centers designed to provide greater recreational and economic opportunities for young people (p.130).
It is interesting to know that before the twentieth century children were referred not to a gender but to “it”.
Nowadays children welfare programs include a lot of eligibility programs. They provide benefits to parents who live in poorness to apply for food stamps, Medicaid, children subsidies, housing subsidies and other assistance to help these parents provide basic needs for their children. The possibility to use these services allows families to go through less stress while taking care of their children, and helps to provide the basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Most services have a program that provides adoptions. It is necessary for children whose parents do not have possibility to raise them in healthy and safe environment. Adopting siblings by different people is not allowed, unless it is in the interests of children. Disclosure of adoption against the will of the adopter is a crime.
Kathleen Kufeldt and Brad McKenzie stated that child welfare was arguably the most complex of the various types of social work (Kufeldt & McKenzie 398).
Child welfare services can protect children from abuse, hunger, neglect, and homelessness, and give their parents everything they need to provide for their children's emotional and physical needs.
There is not a perfect situation of child welfare, so social policy have to improve many of its directions. First of all, there is risk of mortality during pregnancy and childbirth. It is needed to train health workers who provide professional assistance at childbirth. In order to reduce the rate of early infant mortality it is necessary to provide training of neonatologists and pediatricians, breastfeeding for children up to 2 years.
There are millions of children who are not protected. They suffer from violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination. It is essential to provide for children the stability in different situations, to maintain the entirety of family relationship, to intensify families’ capacity, to arrange the receiving of the appropriate services for children, to meet mental and physical health needs, to prepare youth emancipating from foster care to transition into adulthood.
State should provide opportunity for every child to live in family. The authorities should make efforts to keep family together. It is necessary to protect children from different forms of child labor. Children must be protected from sexual exploitation.
Every child has the right to survive, to belong, to be safe, to receive care, to grow up in an adequate environment and to be heard. One should remember that it is important to do best for children’s growing, learning and developing. As people say, children are the future, so while caring and protecting them one cares and protects own future.