This essay provides an overview of federal involvement in foster care, starting with the 1909 White House Conference on Dependent Care, to show the historical relationship between aid to children and in-home care. This historical look reveals a shift toward child rescue that amounts to an overreaction to a perceived bias towards family preservation.

This essay advocates a returned focus on children as members of an existing family within a larger community as the means for grounding the child welfare system. I suggest alternative approaches to the current abuse and neglect system that will keep children safe in their families. In doing so, I explore the many means for dissolving the perceived dichotomy: protecting children and preserving families.

Naomi R. Cahn, Placing Children in Context: Parents, Foster Care, and Poverty, in What Is Right for Children: The Competing Paradigms of Religion and Human Rights, Ashgate, 145 (2009).
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations