A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
emerge as an issue in the child welfare system until the 1980s, and
has only since become a part of the formalized system of out-of-home placement.85
A. The concept of the child welfare system in the U.S.
The U.S. child welfare system emerged from a need to protect
poor children from desolate and abusive living conditions.86 During
the early nineteenth century, the dramatic increase in the number of
orphanages in the U.S. was attributed, in part, to the growing number
of felons and the poor, leaving “the education and morals of the
children of paupers . . . most wholly neglected.”87 Moreover, it was
not until the latter part of the nineteenth century that states mandated
separate orphanage care facilities for children apart from adults.88
The origins of the U.S. foster care system date back to 1853
when Charles Loring Brace, the founder of the Children’s Aid
Society of New York, decided that the best way “to save poor
children from the evils of urban life was to place them in Christian
homes in the country, where they would receive a solid moral
training and learn good work habits.”89 These children paid for their
bread and board through their labor, and many of these dependent
children were subjected to poor treatment.90 Over time, concern
PRACTICES, POLICIES, AND PROGRAMS 10, 13 (Gerald P. Mallon and Peg McCartt
Hess eds., 2005) (describing the increase in the number of facilities established to
“care for children whose parents were unable to provide adequately for them, as
well as for true orphans” (emphasis added)).
85 Maria Scannapieco & Rebecca L. Hegar, Kinship Care Providers: Designing an
Array of Supportive Services, 19 CHILD & ADOLESCENT SOC. WORK. J. 315, 316
(2002) [hereinafter Scannapieco & Hegar, Kinship Care Providers].
86 McGowan, supra note 84, at 11.
87 Id. at 13.
88 Id. at 13-14.
89 Id. at 14. This philosophy is distinguished from the rise of delinquent youth in
the early 19th century who needed to be punished and sent away from their
families. See id. at 15.
90 Id. at 14. These “confused and often frightened children lost contact with their
families back in their hometowns” and were even “encouraged to make a complete
break with their past.” Many of the children were also viewed only as “cheap
labor” and experienced abuse in their new homes. Angelique Brown, Orphan
Trains (1854-1929), SOC. WELFARE HIST. PROJECT,