Social work has long been involved in child foster care. Though its initial involvement de-emphasized the importance of infant–caregiver attachment, Bowlby’s theory of attachment is particularly relevant for child-welfare practice. This entry chronicles the history of child foster care and describes the evolution of legislation most pertinent for the provision of foster care. The characteristics of children in foster care since 2000 and the dynamic flow of children entering and exiting care are described. A brief account of foster care services and future trends in the field are highlighted.
Joyce E. Everett
Philanthropic Funding for Human Services
Kirsten A. Grønbjerg
Of the 1.75 million tax-exempt organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service in April 2020, about one-third are human service nonprofits, including about 267,000 charities with about $371 billion in total combined revenues. In 2019, human service public charities (excluding private foundations) received an estimated $56 billion in charitable contributions. This represents 12% of all charitable contributions, and is about 21% of the combined revenues reported by the almost 270,000 registered human service public charities reporting financial information. While government funding is a major driving force for human service charities, philanthropic funding clearly is important as well. Securing such funding requires solid understanding of the fundraising process and dedicated time and effort. However, competition for donations (and fundraising expertise) appears to be growing across the board, with donations from individuals, United Way, and corporate contributions most at risk for human service charities. These trends in philanthropic funding reflect growing income inequality, which also impacts the scope and types of human services needed and is complicated even further by persistent racial disparities.
Philip R. Popple
Formal or institutional social services began in the United States in the late 19th century as a response to problems that were rapidly increasing as a result of modernization. These services were almost entirely private until the Great Depression in the 1930s when the government became involved via provisions of the Social Security Act. Services expanded greatly, beginning in the 1960s when the federal government developed a system wherein services were supported by public funds but provided through contracts with private agencies. This trend has continued and expanded, resulting in a uniquely American system wherein private agencies serve as vehicles for government social service policy.
Social Welfare Expenditures
Understanding both public and private welfare expenditures is necessary to appreciate the full scope of a social welfare system. This entry examines spending in four major areas of social welfare policy (health, medical, and nutrition; retirement and disability insurance; income maintenance and welfare; and education), comparing the public and private sectors. While expenditures for both sectors are increasing, private expenditures are not increasing as a percentage of total costs, despite efforts to privatize social welfare. This may change in the future if military costs continue to siphon governmental costs away from social welfare expenditures.