Special Developmental Needs of Children in Public Care

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Historically, the public sector has taken the lead role in financing care for low-income and vulnerable populations. The services needed by families with children with special needs are funded by a mixture of federal, state, and local sources. The services are typically administered at the state and local levels, with significant variation in eligibility, availability of services, coordination among programs, and outreach and public education efforts.


In some contexts, it also includes care provided by "members of [a] tribe or clan, godparents, stepparents, or other adults who have a kinship blood with a child" (CWLA 1994), although these caregivers are more widely referred to as "kith". While gaining increasing contemporary attention in social-policy circles, the practice of rearing a relative's child is ancient and global. In early Hawaiian cultures, for example, paternal grandparents typically claimed the first-born son, and maternal grandparents the first-born daughter, as their own (Luomala 1987, p. 1-45). In many African nations, kinship care has been widely practices for decades (Hegar 1999), and in colonial America children who lost their parents to death or incapacity were typically reared by grandparents or other relatives (Trattner 1994, p. 39-49).
Public-policy makers generally appreciate the role of relatives in the lives of children; without their assistance, many children might otherwise be forced into the arms of the state and/or strangers for custody and support. ...
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