A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
increased regarding the religious instruction these foster children
received in their foster homes.91 Roman Catholic leaders, in
particular, opposed this “foster care movement” on the grounds that
children were likely to lose their religious faith by being primarily
placed in Protestant homes.92 By the 1960s however, the number of
children in the American child welfare system outweighed the
available resources.93 Public agencies struggled to provide minimum
levels of care, and services focused primarily on placement, with
concepts of community control and client’s rights essentially
nonexistent.94 Therefore, in an attempt to maintain an effective
structure, the emerging U.S. child welfare system disregarded each
child’s cultural values and greatly overlooked the importance of such
beliefs within the community.95 As a result, kinship care was not seen
as a priority in the consideration of each child’s placement.
B. Family structures and kinship care in the U.S.
Within European and American traditions, relatives had a
“socially mandated role in child rearing when parents were absent or
incapable.”96 Kinship care, in its broadest sense, is “any living
arrangement in which children do not live with either of their parents
and are instead cared for by a relative or someone with whom they
http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/programs/orphan-trains/ (last visited May 2,
91 McGowan, supra note 84, at 14.
92 Id. The foster care movement encompasses the efforts of the Children’s Aid
Society, which by 1879 had sent 40,000 homeless or destitute children to homes in
the country, and the newly established Children’s Home Society, designed to
provide free foster homes for dependent children. Id.
93 See id. at 29 (referring to the political and economic change during the two
decades prior to the 1960s that eventually ushered in an era of tremendous social
change and the expansion of the Civil Rights movement).
94 Id. at 30.
95 See generally id. (detailing the evolution of the child welfare program to
increasingly emphasize fiscal and program accountability at the expense of ethnic
and other cultural considerations).
96 Rebecca L. Hegar & Maria Scannapieco, Grandma’s Babies: The Problem of
Welfare Eligibility for Children Raised by Relatives, 27 J. SOC. & SOC. WELFARE
153, 155 (2000) [hereinafter Hegar & Scannapieco, Grandma’s Babies].