Document Type



The fundamental structure of the public child welfare system is that of a coercive apparatus wrapped in a helping orientation. Agencies ostensibly having the mission to help are mandated to ask whether parents can be blamed for their child welfare problems, and these agencies have the power to remove children from their homes. Thus, the public child welfare agency has a dual-role structure: On one hand, the agency attempts to engage in prevention and support, and to promote family preservation; on the other hand, it also has the task of investigating complaints against parents and removing children from them. This fact has had enormous consequences for the fate of child protection.


Child abuse; Child welfare; Families; Family services; Foster home care; Poverty; Social problems


Public Policy | Social Welfare | Social Work

Publisher Citation

Besharov, Douglas J., Marcia Robinson Lowry, Leroy H. Pelton, and Michael W. Weber. "How we can better protect children from abuse and neglect." The future of children (1998): 120-132.

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