Group Homes

Topics: Orphanage, Abuse, Home Pages: 7 (2835 words) Published: December 6, 2012
Research Paper

The size of orphanages has declined over time and currently group homes serve a main function in providing care for children who are in need of social assistance. Even though group homes share the same goal of increasing the independence of abandoned youths, they vary in formats and functions to target specific needs for children. Family oriented structure of group homes makes it easier for staff to connect with children and meet their personal needs. While group homes provide many important services, they also have shortcomings. State run group homes employees tend to be understaffed and lack proper skill to provide proper care for children. Furthermore, there have been numerous reports of a male staff physically abusing female residents. These problems can be improved by implementing strict laws that require background check on employees, minimum training and supervision on staff performance. In the late 1800s, orphanages were present in the United States as primary means to provide these children with care and housing. Orphanages looked after children whose parents were deceased or otherwise unable or willing to care for them. Parents, and sometimes grandparents, were legally responsible for supporting children, but in the absence of these relatives, they became a ward of the state. Orphanage conditions varied but they tended to be poor. Many orphanages were highly regimented, especially early in the century. Children marched to meals, ate in silence, wore uniforms and sometimes had their heads shaved. Corporal punishment was common and children were routinely beaten across the hands with leather straps. To make matters worse, orphanages were often dangerous. The mortality rate was not much better than living on the streets. Older, bigger, tougher kids bullied younger, smaller children. As hard as it was to leave kids at the mercy of some adults, it was much worse to leave them at the mercy of hundreds of kids. Living in an orphanage meant either being a predator or a victim. There were institutions that were well run by compassionate people, but in general, surviving at orphanage with hundreds of other kids was tough. Orphanage size ranged from 100 to 1000. In the 1900s, orphanages were looked at more and more negatively, and by the middle 20th century, child welfare workers began focusing on recreating family like environment (Maclean). This Cultural emphasis changed from orphanages to group homes. In 1909, the White House held its first conference on care for dependent children. The conference was led by President Theodore Roosevelt along with 200 attendees, and they decided to deinstitutionalize orphanages due to the many problems mentioned above. As a consequence of this deinstitutionalization program, orphanages slowly phased out in favor of direct support for vulnerable children to stay in an intimate family setting. The United States adopted a group home system to deal with children with no parents or relatives to take care of them. The group home is usually a non-profit business licensed by the state to provide specific care services to dependent minors. There is always a contract that spells out the responsibilities of a group home. All the group homes are required to provide staffing for 24 hour care, nutritious meals, a clean household, professional counseling and a bedroom for every two minors. In addition, support services and care are required. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the home staff to assure that all these requirements are fulfilled. The basic structure of a group home is a standard, single-family house to meet the needs of the residents. Group homes are virtually indistinguishable from other homes in the surrounding neighborhood and they could be located in neighborhoods of any socioeconomic status. State and federal funds continue to support the majority of group homes, but some group homes are owned by private organizations. The funding for group home minors...
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