BP11: Child welfare, or “Making your kid clean his room doesn’t violate child labor laws, does it?”

Explain 2 historical policies pertaining to child welfare and 2 current (or recent) aspects of child welfare not relating to out-of-home placement (aka “child welfare” as a part of DHS). 

I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed with food and love from Easter festivities. We do it up right at my house. Ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs, homemade bread, and pavlova for dessert.

Here’s that recipe if you’re interested:

http://www.marthastewart.com/332803/pavlova

Oy, child welfare is dicey. My practicum placement is in a public school, and I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of child welfare, including the icky DHS stuff. But, here we go…

I LOVE that the history of child welfare in this country begins with a dude named Charles Loring Brace who moved poor and orphaned street kids from crappy urban settings into farm families in the Midwest. While this tactic split up families, it got kids who were in terrible conditions into better ones, hanging out with cows and corn in Wisconsin and such. I’m a bit of a country mouse anyway.

Let’s talk about Etta Wheeler for a minute. When she found out about the abuse that was being exacted upon a 9-year old indentured child (read: slave), she went to the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to find out what could be done. You read that right. Animals. There was nothing to protect children yet. Because of her work to right this wrong, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was created. Now, a lot of folks think that, during her work, she was advocating for this child as if she were an animal, but that is not the case. She was acting as an advocate of an abused child.

Another historical issue that came up was the issue of child labor. There were a lot of destitute families at the turn of the 20th Century and going into the Great Depression. Families did what they thought was best and put their kids to work to make ends meet. Kids worked in coal mines, which isn’t good for ANYONE, but there were zero protections for them or for women. In 1916 the Child Labor Act was put in place to prohibit the interstate transportation of goods that were made by children. In 1918, the Child Labor Act was ruled unconstitutional (uh oh) and most other attempts to protect women and children were thwarted until 1935 with the Social Security Act. This is crazy to me. My grandfather was born in 1915 (he passed away almost 9 years ago), and was the youngest of 9 children. Any of them could have worked as children without any sort of protections in place. Scary.

There are many federal grants that are helping parents with child care these days. The primary programs are the federal dependent care tax credit, the child care tax credit, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and Title XX. These programs were designed to assist low-income families with childcare so they can work. As a working mom, I can attest to the fact that childcare is EXPENSIVE. Unfortunately, I always made too much money to qualify for these services.

Currently, my biggest concern is for children’s education. I consider this a child welfare issue because every child has the right to a good education. Our public school system is being threatened as well as all the things that fall under the umbrella of public school. Free and reduced lunch programs for children are being rethought. I work in a place where 92% of children are on free or reduced lunch. 92%! If those protections were to change, what would that mean for those kids? Our Secretary of Education does not believe that all schools who receive federal funding, whether public, charter, or private, should be equally accountable to the US government (read: school voucher program). In layperson’s terms: if a parent doesn’t want to send their kid to public school, they can go to private school and get vouchers from the government to subsidize some of the cost. But, those schools receiving those funds would NOT be held to the same standards at the public schools.

…so, how many more days do we have til summer? Because I’m craving a margarita and a pool deck, STAT.

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