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Child protection in Great Britain : a survey of recent trends, with particular reference to the patterns of co-operation between statutory and voluntary child welfare agencies, Constabaris, Kathleen Ann

Abstract

The social welfare services of the western nations are administered in almost all cases through a combination of voluntary and statutory organizations. The patterns of the relationships subsisting between these two kinds of welfare agency exhibit wide variations from one country to another, and between one area of service and another within the same country. Although there is an extensive literature on the subject purporting to state the nature and scope of the roles peculiarly suited to each of the two kinds of agency, it is not in fact apparent either that the claims of attributions on which this literature rests are valid or that the activities of the agencies themselves conform in a regular way to the model. The present study deals with one area of welfare services in one jurisdiction, namely child welfare service in England and Wales at the present time. It attempts to determine what the character of the relationship between private and public organizations in the field of child welfare is, to evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of that relationship, and to offer a number of hypotheses designed to explain the idiosyncrasies of the relationship. It is conceived as one of a number of projected studies, all of which are to be concerned with assessing the plausibility of conventional accounts of the public-private relationship, with the identification of the principal causes of the relationships that are actually observable, and with contributing to the development of a theory of the matter which would assist in the formulation of realistic, efficient and logically consistent methods of organizing and administering social welfare services. The main findings of the study are that: (1) marked differences in the relations between private and public welfare agencies exist even between the constituent parts of a single area of service, — in this case, between delinquency, adoption, protection and recreational services within the single area of child welfare; (2) these differences seem as often as not to be the result of historical accident rather than of principled adherence to a coherent view of what the private-public relationship ought to be; (3) the problem of explaining the sources of the historical accidents in question does not appear to be amenable to any general mode of explanation in the present state of our knowledge of the subject; (4) gross inefficiencies in the administration of child welfare services are a common consequence of unwillingness or inability to come to terms with the problems arising from the co-existence of private and public organizations.

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