History of Minority Populations in the Child Welfare System
The child welfare system was created as the need to address the basic needs and provisions of poor children was more and more evident throughout the 19th century. Through the passing decades, the need to provide supportive services for these children’s families was also a concern. Among the agencies responsible for providing these services are state and county child protective services as well as adoption agencies and foster homes. The main goal of these agencies is the protection of children who have experienced abuse from those who are responsible for their care such as parents or guardians.
The ultimate goal is to have abused children reunited with their biological parents -when possible- once the danger of repeated abuse has been curbed. The decision to place children up for adoption is a measure of last resort. However, it is evident that children of minority groups are the ones most represented within the national child welfare system. The Relevant History of the Minority Populations Minority populations within the United States have always been at a significant disadvantage socially and economically.
The roots of these disadvantages among minorities go back to the initial colonization and subsequent expansion of this country. For example, the African American and Native American populations were once the target of systematic, institutionalized racism. The literal and cultural destruction of Native Americans and the racially biased laws passed by federal, state and local governments against the African American population have subsequently resulted in a socio-economic breakdown within these groups (Martin, 2007).
These disadvantages have caused a social stagnation among subsequent generations within these groups. Undeniably, the stresses of disadvantaged families trying to reach self-sufficiency have caused many to experience behavioral and emotional issues of which the result is many times the abuse of their children or children in their care. However, there has been a response to these issues within the Human Services community especially from the child welfare practice. The U. S. Child Welfare Response
The resulting awareness that there is in fact a need to concentrate efforts in helping improve the quality of life among minorities and their children has caused the Human Services community to implement more comprehensive actions towards the social assistance of these children. In recent decades the preservation of the family unit has been the ultimate goal when a child protective services agency interferes. But other preventative measures have also been implemented many of which have seen positive results.
Contemporary Efforts to Intervene With Child and Family Services Respecting Cultural Diversity The necessary interference from child protective services mostly results in temporary placement of abused or allegedly abused children in foster homes. As previously mentioned, the goal is eventual reunification of the child with his or her family but not until there is clear evidence that there have been efforts made by the biological parents to make behavioral improvements within their families to prevent any future abuses of their children.
Programs available to parents of abused children range from counseling, parenting classes, treatment for substance abuse, anger management, employment services and housing services (Martin, 2007). Preventative measures have also been taken by social service agencies in the form of early intervention and prevention programs. These services can include family counseling, parenting training, household budgeting, stress management, and in some cases cash assistance (Martin, 2007). There is however another area of focus among the child welfare system in regards to the methods of providing services for children of American subcultures.
Methods of Cultural Competent Practice in Child and Family Service Settings Cultural competencies are the methods developed for Human Services professionals that are designed to increase cultural awareness and sensitivity. The application of the principles learned with their application allow the child welfare worker to better serve minority children and their families. As the child welfare professional applies what he or she learns regarding the culture of the child and his or her parents, the worker will achieve the ability to respect the dignity of all people regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation (Martin, 2007)