According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, "An estimated forty-two percent of children under the age of eighteen are living below the poverty line. " (NCSC, 2009). About half of the forty-two percent live close to two hundred percent below the line. As the poverty rate rises, more single and low- income parents are in need of affordable daycare. A recent study showed that "Forty percent of low-income or single-income families spend almost half of their total income on childcare" (Associated Press, 2007).
Although subsidized programs are available, the waiting process can be long and tedious. For example, programs like Operation 3 Breakthrough which provide daycare at no cost to families have close to a thousand families on their waiting list. Because cities are not providing for the growing need childcare, parents are "forced" to seek alternative methods. One alternative parents chose is to leave their children either at home alone or with other siblings.
An estimated seventy-seven percent of American kids are considered "latch-key' kids" (Another study showed that "nationwide, parents report leaving more than three million children under thirteen, some as young as five, to care for homeless for at least a few hours a week on a regular basis" (Associated Press, 2007). SAFETIES is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to reduce and stop preventable child injury and death. SAFETIES recommends that no child under the age of twelve be left alone for any period of time. There is no federal statute on the age a child can be safely left alone; it is left up to the states to decide.
In Kansas, the current age a child can be left alone is twelve; however, in Missouri there is no age requirement. Although a child may be aware of emergency and accident prevention, any times they do not have the cognitive capability and Judgment to handle the situation when it occurs. Children four and under require interaction and supervision that another child can not adequately provide to them. "Children four and under are at a higher risk and make up half of the unintentional injury-related deaths among children fourteen and under" (Safe Kids, 2010).
The bottom line is that the latch-key method of childcare results in an increasing amount of preventable child injury and death. NEGLECT 4 Neglect is federally defined as "Failure of a parent or guardian to provide needed DOD, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision such that the child's health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm" (HAS, 2009). "An estimated 5. 8 million children are neglected or abused each year" (HAS, 2009). Parents that do not have older children rely on neighbors, family members or friends to watch their children.
This is sometimes referred to as "patchwork" childcare. Out of desperation, other parents leave their children alone at home, public parks, or public libraries. "Children and their families may be in need of services even though the parent may not be intentionally gleeful. When poverty limits a parent's resources to adequately provide necessities for the child, services may be offered to help families provide for their children" (American Humane society, 2010). Attachment Theory, (Bowl, 1969) shows certain aspects that all children require and need in order to flourish and grow healthy.
In order to have "Secure attachment" children need human physical contact. "Physical connection means plenty of touch and eye contact. Such things as cradling an infant while feeding, cuddling with a toddler before bedtime, and hugging a teenager increase the sense of physical injection, especially if touch and eye contact take place on a daily basis throughout childhood years" (Wassermann, 2006). Many times the child goes from place to place, to different locations and sometimes watched by "strangers". The child has no stability, permanency or sense of "home. Permanency is a key factor for early child development. A "safe haven" is needed so that when a child feels threatened or afraid, he or she can return to the caregiver for comfort and soothing. If the child is alone or does not receive POLICY PROPOSAL 5 this comfort, they will eventually stop relying on the caregiver and become outdrawn. Children also need a "secure base" that is provided by the caregiver. This gives them safe and dependable place to explore the world. In many cases the caregiver is not intentionally putting the child in danger, but is simply unaware of the many household dangers to children. Separation distress" is also detrimental too child's well-being. When separated from the primary caregiver, the child will immediately become upset and depressed. Many children experience this even in the most "normal", ideal family circumstances. A deficiency in any of these areas can affect a child later down the road. LEGISLATION In the past, the United States has tried to correct this problem through legislation. The Aid to Families with Dependent Children (FADE) was first passed in 1935, provided money for "relief" to help families provide for their children.
In 1972, President Nixon built on the idea but changing it to Aid to Dependent Children (DC) trying to switch focus on to the children as opposed to the family. Republicans typically have a "laissez fairer" attitude, however all sides felt this was an important issue. Later Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANK) was created in 1996 and reformed the DC. With TANK, time limits were put in place, and subsidies were provided to parents to help them care for their children. Currently the federal government allows up to thirty percent of each state's TANK funds to be used alongside current child care grants.
In the sass's The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare act focused on keeping the child with the biological parents at any cost. Later this was reformed into the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The new act switched the focus from family preservation to safety and permanency of the child. 6 The Child Care and Development Block Grant (JDBC) is a block grant given to tastes to subsidize child care for low-income families if parents are currently employed or enrolled in school. "Approximately 1. 8 million US children receive funds, 36,300 in Missouri alone" (IDS, 2009).
The grant only applies to children thirteen and under offering in-kind assistance to their families. "An average of sixty-six dollars per week given in vouchers to subsidize child care" (Almanac of Economic Policy, 1995). Another step in the right direction is provided by the Early Childhood Development, Education, and Care Fund (SEDUCE). This is another block grant that is provided to tastes and has many programs set in place to allow the child to remain in the home instead of utilizing facilitated child care.
They offer a program called Stay At Home Parent (ASAP) which allows families with children three and younger to receive in- cash and in-kind benefits in order to provide childcare themselves. Other qualifications this program include teen moms, high risk, no permanent residence, unemployed, The family must also be 185% below the poverty line to be eligible. While these programs have been successful with goals regarding abuse, safety, and permanency; the poverty level continues to be at an all time high. LOOKING ABROAD - THE NETHERLANDS I chose to compare our policies with The Netherlands.
I found that the Netherlands is more progressive with its view of social welfare than the United States, however is far behind almost all other European countries. In The Netherlands they offer what are considered "General Provisions. " Basically every citizen is entitled to certain basic needs and provisions. General provisions include Child development groups, pre- school playgroups, child day-care, out of school child care, special education, primary 7 education, and youth health services. All of these programs are universal and available to all citizens.
The majority of the provisions are geared towards children staying with parents if possible to have a strong family unit. They offer extended maternity and parental leave for both parents to lower the cost and need for facilitated child care centers. The funding fro child care and maternity/parental leave is provided by both national and local municipal authorities. All citizens pay in for the "greater good" of country. LOOKING AHEAD - REFORM I propose not to create a new policy but reform the currant policy.
I feel that the Child Care and Development Block Grant (JDBC) is meeting the expectations and Laos the program was designed for. Because the problem is growing rapidly, changes need to be made so that we don't lose control of the situation. The program's goals would continue to focus on importance of family, and strive to provide stability, permanency, and enrichment to families. I also feel that we need more focus on early child development (birth to four years) because it will play a dramatic role later in these children's lives.
Working and collaborating with programs such as Head Start provide care givers tools to provide young children with what they need to thrive. Graduated assignment should be another key factor in the success of the program. Graduated disengagement is one of the most important core functions of social work. As social workers we need to help people build their own support system so that when they complete the process, they don't feel alone or back where they started. Finding activities and helping them build new trusting relationships is a key factor in this step.
They need a support system in place so that when crisis or hardship happens, they POLICY PROPOSAL do not feel hopeless. SERVICES 8 The program I am proposing would be separated into two main groups. The first group is children ages birth to four years and the second would reach children ages five to eighteen years old. Playgroups which are used in the Netherlands as well as many other European countries give young children ages birth to four years old a chance to interact and socialize with other children their age.
Licensed facilitators specializing in early education and development will guide volunteers in providing educational and stimulating activities. Meetings would be held three times a week at local schools, churches, parks, and community centers. Keeping the locations in the neighborhoods of he people they are serving will make attending the programs easier for these families. Child day care will also be provided to families that qualify. Accredited programs are required for all programs receiving grant funding implementing the core value competency.
The number of locations should be based on the need for each individual community. For example, in areas of greater need, there should also be greater access to programs. I would also like to propose "Emergency' child care. This program would be a temporary "safe" arrangement to offer parents "peace of mind" if their usual arrangements fall through. For example if the baby-sitter doesn't show up, or you have a family emergency, you could drop your child off for a short period of time. Children must already be enrolled in the program or be on some corresponding program such TANK to qualify.
Companies that provide on-site day care centers for employees will also receive funding as well as tax incentives. This will give the parents incentive to want to keep their Job as well as peace of mind knowing their children are close by. 9 I also feel that more funds should be used for the Stay At Home Parent program to allow children ages four and under to be with their parents. Families that qualify will receive subsidies while working or attending school part-time and stay home with their child rest of the time.
For older children ages five to eighteen the program would continue to offer rewarding after school and summer activities. The objective is to get these kids away from the TV and teach them about the world around them. These activities should based on the strengths perspective model. It is important to find something that the child is interested in or desires, so that they can feel like they have a skill or purpose. After school programs would include tutoring, mentoring, counseling, skill building social interaction, violence prevention, and other similar programs.
As social workers we must first build a trusting, positive relationship with the people we are working with. Finding common interests help to bridge partnerships and giving them someone they feel they can "turn to. " It is important to focus on forming positive relationships instead of trying "treat" them. These programs will give the children the skills they need to be responsible for their own behavior and become productive members of their communities. I would also like to provide subsidies for summer camps.
I found some programs such as the YMCA that offer subsidized summer programs for under-privileged youth already. Many families struggle the most during the summer months when their children are out of school. This would eliminate having to pay for child care the entire three months of summer, as well as give the child something enjoyable to do. 10 Parents would be provided education and resources on child development and health. The program would offer employment resources, resume help, transportation assistance, interview techniques, internet access, and listings for local Job openings in the