The welfare system boom in the United States started with orphanages after the Civil War left many kids without parents.
In 1853 “orphan trains” began transferring children south and west from the east. This was the beginning of the foster home system.
Until Sigmund Freud said that the relationship between mother and child was more important than father and child, custody was traditionally awarded to the father in divorce cases.
In 1974 congress passed Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in order to provide guidelines for states to follow and increases the mediatory reporting rates of suspected abuse or neglect. It also required a guardian ad litem to advocate for the child’s best interests.
Baby Moses laws allow parents to drop their kids off at safe locations like fire departments or hospitals if they’re unable to care for them. 44 states have adopted it since 1999.
In order to assure the best conditions for the children, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 set guidelines for reunification, whether it should happen and if so when. After 12 months, if the family the child was removed from was not able to create a safe environment, the child is permanently removed from the home.There is then court hearings to legalize the child with a new adoptive family.
DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.