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A consequence has been the increasingly common act by states and cities of slashing budgets which either eliminate child welfare agency resources or even the agencies themselves. Today, in the anticipated aftermath of the rash of scandals pockmarking the Bush Administration's oversight in this area, many agencies are simply fighting to stay alive. And today, in so many state venues, there is a justified fear of the budget axe. In our current economic times, there is little statewide funding available. Child welfare agencies, their staffs and their resources are especially vulnerable, with budgetary policy today reflecting a sense of recession and an unwillingness to spend in such areas. (Haynes, 1)
This poses an extremely great challenge to the current generation of leaders poised to undo the failures of a decade of infrastructural neglect. President Obama has spoken frankly of the need for more aggressive law enforcement focus on areas such as domestic abuse, sex offender registering and neglect intervention. But he also brings his core philosophical focus on personal and public service to the discussion, acknowledging that one of the only real ways to undo previous damage in the face of current challenges will be through American volunteerism. To that end, it does appear that the Obama administration is preparing to make dramatic changes in this area, promising to develop new foster homes and take a greater interest in the training and quality shaping such staffs. (Davis-Tanner, 1) to the point, Obama has recognized through his platform that those raised in foster care or public agency centers tend to have a significant disadvantage in many key areas. Our research reports a 54% high school graduation rate, a less than 50% likelihood of unemployment and a 25% chance of being homeless for some period. (Davis-Tanner, 1) Thus, the current administration has pledged to improve the prospects of children raised by public welfare through employment-driven training and development programs.
This is an ambitious set of objectives, but one that demonstrates a refreshing awareness on the part of our leaders of the depth of the problem and that which must be done to begin the long and difficult process of reversing this trend. America is, as the new president has stated so frequently and so eloquently, in a rebuilding phase. Here, it will be working to return to the ability to meet the expectations of its people. Chief among them, Americans should be able to expect support for our young, impoverished and vulnerable. All evidence both internally and on the international level has come to illustrate beyond a reasonable doubt that America has failed these expectations and has left its poorest children to languish in negative, abuse and otherwise untenable circumstances. The research accumulated here recommends the absolute vitality that child welfare program in the United States be assessed and provided with the resources needed to make responsible hiring decisions, to arm facilities with the needed resources both in terms of material and personnel and to insure that the placement of vulnerable children with foster homes is done with care, selectivity and effective background research. Additionally, proper accommodations must be made to ensure that agencies are capable of providing intervention where necessary.
This speaks to what is so often the preeminent challenge in curing poverty. The true range of causes for the dramatic imbalance between what is possessed by the rich and what is endured by the poor is almost endless, with resource hoarding, racial inequity and gender discrimination all playing key roles in sustaining that gap. However, the examples of recent history, particularly in their monumental failures, lend a wealth of insight into the sequence at which to begin addressing the daunting and institutionalized problem it has become. By distinguishing the roots to poverty whose effects are directly within the range of our considerable control, such as the availability of outreach, the accessibility of medical treatment and the equal pervasion of opportunity for all to access public services, we can begin to bring to the surface and to remove the hidden realities of despair in the United States.
That said, there is, for the first time in quite a few years, great cause for optimism in these areas. Particularly, the implications of Obama's plans at the very least are properly minded. These reset the philosophical compass which seems to have driven the Bush Administration so far aware from the needs of the children in the United States. Still, the most permeating fact entering into the discussion on child welfare is that relating to America's economy. Reinvestment through public resources is essential but will be relatively impossible if improvements in our economy are not tailored to ensure that all Americans see an improvement. This must especially include those who are poorest among us. The future of this nation is its children. Therefore, America owes it to the next generation of leaders and to itself to see that its children are given the level of care, support and resource access commensurate with the remarkable wealth and influence which we command.
Davis-Tanner, T. (2008). President Elect Barack Obama's Stances on Child Welfare. Child Welfare League of America.
Haynes, B. (2009). Child Welfare Advocates Fear Cuts. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Online at http://www.lvrj.com/news/38743519.html
McHugh, D. (2007). UNICEF Ranks U.S., Britain at Bottom in Child Welfare Survey. Washington Post. Online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/14/AR2007021401397_pf.html
Pear, R. (2004). U.S. Finds Fault in All 50 States' Child Welfare Programs, an d Penalties May Follow. New York Times. Online at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res[continue]
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