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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines federal child welfare policy in historical perspective with close attention to the financial inducements used to encourage state policy and practice. The authors show that rather than setting a single child welfare policy for all fifty states, the US approach relies heavily on the budgeting process as a mechanism for shaping the field. Examples include the structure for accepting and responding to child maltreatment referrals; the design of foster care services; the approach to reunification and permanency services; extension of foster care beyond age eighteen; and, most recently, adoption of foster care prevention services to reduce reliance on out-of-home care. The result is similar system goals across states, with ample opportunities for disparate system designs and likely different experiences for families.

Keywords: child maltreatment, foster care, financing, permanency, child welfare, poverty, welfare

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