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Past, Present, and Future Roles of Child Protective Services (written in 1998 before CPS was completely corrupt)

Past, Present, and Future Roles of Child Protective Services (written in 1998 before CPS was completely corrupt)

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Published by Kathleen Dearinger
Contemporary social issues typically spring from historical roots, and, as this article
points out, that is particularly true of the effort to find a balanced, fair, and helpful way
of responding to child abuse and neglect. This article examines how today’s child protective
services system evolved from a past of almshouses, orphan trains, anticruelty
societies, and legislation establishing the protection of children as a government function.
The author finds that the history of child protection in the United States is
marked by a continuing, unresolved tension between the aim of rescuing children
from abusive homes and that of strengthening the care their families can provide. Against that backdrop, this article explains the structure of the typical child protective services (CPS) agency (the unit within a broader public child welfare department that focuses on abuse and neglect) and outlines the roles in child protection that are played by the police, the courts, private and public social service agencies, and the community at large. According to the author’s analysis, the fundamental challenges facing CPS can be captured in two questions regarding appropriate boundaries for the
agency: Which situations require the agency’s intervention? And how can the broader resources of the community be mobilized in the effort to protect children?
Contemporary social issues typically spring from historical roots, and, as this article
points out, that is particularly true of the effort to find a balanced, fair, and helpful way
of responding to child abuse and neglect. This article examines how today’s child protective
services system evolved from a past of almshouses, orphan trains, anticruelty
societies, and legislation establishing the protection of children as a government function.
The author finds that the history of child protection in the United States is
marked by a continuing, unresolved tension between the aim of rescuing children
from abusive homes and that of strengthening the care their families can provide. Against that backdrop, this article explains the structure of the typical child protective services (CPS) agency (the unit within a broader public child welfare department that focuses on abuse and neglect) and outlines the roles in child protection that are played by the police, the courts, private and public social service agencies, and the community at large. According to the author’s analysis, the fundamental challenges facing CPS can be captured in two questions regarding appropriate boundaries for the
agency: Which situations require the agency’s intervention? And how can the broader resources of the community be mobilized in the effort to protect children?

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Published by: Kathleen Dearinger on Jan 06, 2010
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10/12/2013

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23
Past, Present, and FutureRoles of Child ProtectiveServices
Patricia A.Schene
Abstract
Contemporary social issues typically spring from historical roots, and, as this articlepoints out, that is particularly true of the effort to find a balanced, fair, and helpful way of responding to child abuse and neglect. This article examines how today’s child pro-tective services system evolved from a past of almshouses, orphan trains, anticruelty societies, and legislation establishing the protection of children as a government func-tion. The author finds that the history of child protection in the United States ismarked by a continuing, unresolved tension between the aim of rescuing childrenfrom abusive homes and that of strengthening the care their families can provide. Against that backdrop, this article explains the structure of the typical child protectiveservices (CPS) agency (the unit within a broader public child welfare department that focuses on abuse and neglect) and outlines the roles in child protection that areplayed by the police, the courts, private and public social service agencies, and thecommunity at large. According to the author’s analysis, the fundamental challengesfacing CPS can be captured in two questions regarding appropriate boundaries for theagency: Which situations require the agency’s intervention? And how can the broaderresources of the community be mobilized in the effort to protect children?
T
he protection of children is a value shared by all cultures and com-munities around the globe. In almost all societies, responsibility forraising children well and preparing them for adulthood goesbeyond the parents and is shared, to some degree, by the community at large. The community’s investment in the well-being of its children isreflected in cultural mores and social norms, and in legal frameworks that permit intervention in individual families when children are abused orneglected.In the United States, independence, privacy, and parental rights arehighly prized. The legal system supports the right of families to rear theirchildren according to their own values, and requires evidence of danger orharm before the state may invade the sanctity of the home to protect chil-dren.
1,2
Given the value society places on privacy, even neighbors and
Patricia A. Schene, Ph.D.,is a consultant in chil- dren and family services and is associated with the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver.
The Future of Children PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM ABUSE AND NEGLECT Vol.8No.1 – Spring 1998
 
Historical Overview
The history of the nation’s response to childabuse and neglect has been marked by a ten-sion between two missions: an emphasis onrescuing children from abusive or neglectfulfamilies on the one hand, and efforts to sup-port and preserve their families on the other.The contemporary debate over the priority given to these competing goals, waged inthe press and in scholarly journals,
3,4
is actu-ally more than 100 years old. The childrescue orientation is reflected in a long-standing tendency to see child maltreatment as arising from poverty and parental irre-sponsibility, and so to emphasize theremoval of children from their homes toprotect them. The family support approach,by contrast, focuses on ameliorating thesocial and environmental factors that con-tribute to parental stress and child maltreat-ment. The child rescue orientation was evi-dent even in colonial times, while the family support philosophy’s earliest roots can befound in the social services orientation of the progressive movement in the early twen-tieth century.
5
1700s and 1800s: Indenture andInstitutions
The legal basis for efforts to protect needy children in colonial times rested on theEnglish Poor Law of 1601, which placed
24THE FUTURE OF CHILDREN SPRING 199824
friends are often reluctant to informally intervene into family relation-ships. Controversy surrounds the work of child protection because it juxta-poses the need for social intervention to protect children and the inherent rights of parents. As a result, efforts to improve upon the nation’s system of child protection often aim to find a balance between these competing values.The formal system through which this society responds to child abuseand neglect is now largely a governmental one, although in the past, privatechild advocacy and child welfare agencies were the leaders in actions onbehalf of vulnerable children. Today, primary responsibility for child pro-tection is vested in public child protective services (CPS) agencies, whichreceive, investigate, and respond to reports of child abuse and neglect.These agencies are usually linked to child welfare departments with broaderresponsibilities, which include foster care and adoption. Both are typically housed within state or county departments of social services. CPS functionsare funded through state or local authorities and are governed by statestatutes, although they have been shaped by federal leadership, legislation,and funding. At the local level, the work of CPS is done in close coordina-tion with the courts, law enforcement agencies, and local social serviceproviders.This article first reviews the history of the nation’s response to childmaltreatment, tracing the shift in responsibility from private charities topublic agencies. It also documents how efforts to provide substitutehomes for children whose parents abuse or neglect them have overshad-owed efforts to strengthen vulnerable families so children can remain at home. Second, the current role of CPS is outlined and discussed in rela-tion to the other organizations (such as the courts) that contribute tochild protection. Last, two key challenges now confronting the nation’schild protection system are briefly discussed: the difficulty of determining which cases should be served by CPS, which is a relatively intrusive andauthoritative intervention into family life; and the importance of involv-ing other community members and organizations in the effort to protect children.
 
25Past,Present,and Future Roles of Child Protective Services
public responsibility for the poor in thehands of local townspeople.
5
The doctrineknown as
 parens patriae 
, or the ruler’s powerto protect minors, was viewed as justificationfor governmental intervention into theparent-child relationship, either to enforceparental duty or to supply substitute care forthe child.
1
The attention of community lead-ers, philanthropists, and social reformers who were concerned about child abuse andneglect focused primarily on the children of the poorest families and on those who wereorphaned, abandoned, or unsupervised.Children of the “unworthy poor” were savedfrom developing slothful ways by separationfrom their parents through indenture orplacement in institutions.
6
 Actions taken onbehalf of those children were typically justi-fied on moral grounds, but they also servedas potent instruments of social control.During most of the nineteenth century,destitute children were sent to institutionsoperated by private, charitable organiza-tions. For instance, foundling hospitals tocare for unwanted babies opened in somecommunities in the early nineteenth century.Many more poor or abandoned children were sent to live in almshouses—facilitiesestablished in the 1800s in many largecities to house the very poor of all ages. Almshouses provided a minimal standard of care to orphaned or needy children and toimpoverished, insane, or diseased adults.
7
Typically, when the children reached 9 or10 years of age, they were either indenturedto families as servants or apprenticed out tolearn a skill and pay for their care by theirfree labor.
5
The second half of the nineteenth cen-tury saw increasing criticism of the impactsthat the unsanitary, chaotic almshouses hadon children, especially the very young, whosuffered high mortality rates there. Privatecharities and religious groups establishedorphanages or children’s asylums to sepa-rate needy children from adults and protect them from the disease, maltreatment, andexploitation that faced them in almshouses. A number of states passed laws requiringthat children be moved from almshouses tosuch children’s institutions. The care of needy children was considered a publicresponsibility and so was financed withpublic dollars, although private agenciesprovided the care.The demands that urbanization, indus-trialization, and immigration placed on poorand working-class families in the latenineteenth century left many children unat-tended. Child vagrancy became an increas-ingly visible problem. In 1853, a youngminister named Charles Loring Braceresponded to the huge numbers of home-less, ragged, hungry children prowlingthe streets of New York City by forming theChildren’s Aid Society to rescue those chil-dren. During a span of 75 years, theChildren’s Aid Society sent more than150,000 orphans by train to live in Christianhomes in rural areas, often in the Midwest, where their labor was valued by farm fami-lies.
5,7
Rural states also relied on family place-ments to care for their own homeless ordependent children. For instance, between1866 and 1899, the state of Ohio established50 homes in which farm families cared for wards of the county at a cost of one dollar per week per child.
7
These homes can be seen asprecursors of today’s foster care system.In the eighteenth and nineteenth cen-turies, poor and immigrant parents wererarely treated with compassion. Those facinghard times received little help. When there was a lack of supervision, a home was unsafe,or a family was not economically viable,the children were often removed. Someresourceful families escaped detection by the authorities, and others received helpthrough ties to religious communities, assis-tance societies for ethnic immigrant groups,or the nascent political machines in urbanareas. Most families, however, faced theirtroubles on their own because help was not readily available, or because they wanted toavoid the risk of losing their children.
1877 to 1920: AnticrueltySocieties
The forerunners of the child protective ser- vices (CPS) agencies that today investigateand respond to child abuse and neglect wereprivate associations known as “anticruelty 
Children of the “unworthy poor” were saved  from developing slothful ways by separation  from their parents through indenture or  placement in institutions.

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