Child welfare services vary from one community to another. Some child welfare programs fund health care for children, help prepare young children for school, or provide day care for children whose parents both have jobs. Others seek to prevent adolescent pregnancy, violence, drug use, or other problems. Many child welfare agencies provide services specifically for children who have been abused or neglected, or who have not received adequate care. Such agencies may administer child protection programs, which protect children from cruelty; family preservation services, which help families resolve their problems; or out-of-home programs, which find new homes for children through foster care, residential group care, and adoption.
Important child welfare organizations include the Child Welfare League of America, the Child Welfare League of Canada, and the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. The United Nations Children's Fund, commonly called UNICEF, works with governments throughout the world to meet children’s needs. Many countries also have government agencies devoted to child welfare. In the United States, for instance, the Children's Bureau oversees a variety of programs that assist children and families.
Many schools of social work offer child welfare as a specialized field of study. Students in child welfare programs learn how to provide counseling, support, and other services for children in need and their families.
See also Aid to Families with Dependent Children; Child abuse; Day care; Foster care; Social work.