The Child Welfare System

By: Mariah Stein

Social workers labor to address the many life circumstances and events, such as violence, neglect, and poverty, that prevent children’s needs for health, security, belonging, and self-fulfillment from being met. (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, p.239)cw15.jpeg

Family Preservation: (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, p.249-250)

  • It is preferable for a child to live with his or her original family; states use federal funds to keep the child safe at home while providing support services to the family
  • Social workers teach parents how to effectively parent their children and how to safely oversee their home
  • “Wraparound Services” wraps services around the family to prevent the child’s removal
  • Family group decision making is a model that brings together family members, friends, and other significant adults to create a permanency plan for a child
  • There are also other programs such as the shared family model, and the Child and Family Program, that help to preserve families

Foster Care Family: (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, p.250-252)

  • On any given day approximately 500,000 children are in foster care in the US. Children stay an average of 33 months, though 17% have been in care for 5 years or more
  • Most enter due to abuse or neglect, but could also be there because their parents are incarcerated, disabled, or deceased
  • Most children are usually traumatized and confused when they are taken out of their homes and put in a foster home, and usually exhibit serious behavior problems
  • 20,000-25,000 kids age out of foster care each year with no ongoing family support and need help transitioning into the real world
  • Social workers help recruit, train, and oversee foster parents


Adoption: (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, p.252-254)

  • About 2% of all American children live in adoptive families
  • It is very challenging to find suitable adoptive placements for the 126,00 special- needs children (children who are older or have physical, emotional, or mental difficulties)
  • International adoption has become a growing segment of adoption
  • Adoption social workers recruit potential parents, thoroughly study potential parents’ homes, and help determine the adoptive placements that best meed the child’s needs


Kinship Care:  (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, p.255)

  • About 6 million children live in houses headed by grandparents or other relatives
  • Many times neither of the parents are in the house so the relative is responsible for rearing the child
  • Depending on circumstances, the relative caregiver and/or the child may be eligible for financial assistance or other public assistance payments
  • Social workers play an important role in helping kinship care families find the resources they need


Group and Residential Care: (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, pg. 255-256)

  • Group facilities accept children who suddenly must be removed from their homes for protection
  • Other group facilities serve particular groups of children, such as those who have run afoul of the law or children who are developmentally disabled
  • Residential institutions may serve dozens of children who can benefit from a group environment that provides a variety of professional services as well as a structured environment with established routines and supervision



DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

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