Orphanages in America

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Issue:

Whether the United States’ policy shift away from institutional care is warranted given the benefits it provides.

Description:

The stigma associated with orphanages has lead policymakers in the United States to discourage the use of these institutional care facilities. The Social Security Act of 1935 authorized the first federal grants for child welfare services. Since then, the federal government has continued to encourage states to adopt Foster Care as their main child welfare system. The policies encouraging Foster Care are in large part due to the government’s recognition that the nuclear family is a superior model for child development. This, coupled with the traditionally negative view of children being raised in group homes, has lead to many myths about institutional care and encouraged the public’s negative stereotype of these facilities. The government’s adverse position to institutional care must be disabused. It limits a form of childcare that is proven to be effective and beneficial. The reasons and history behind the government’s biased view of these facilities is still unclear. Orphanages offer many disadvantaged children distinct advantages over foster care, some of which are structure, stability, and a sense of permanence. Children’s homes permit siblings to stay together, afford children a chance to develop moral and religious values, encourage a sense of responsibility and work ethic, as well as much needed education and job-related skills. There is great potential for orphanages to meet the needs of the many children who currently languish for years in the modern foster care system. It is time for policymakers to recognize the distinct advantages institutional care can provide. Sources:

Barth, R.P. (2002). Institutions vs. Foster Homes: The Empirical Base for the Second Century of Debate. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC, School of Social Work, Jordan Institute for Families

Carp, E. Wayne, Orphanages: The Strength and Weakness of a...
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