Chronology of Foster Care System Development

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  1. 1500s: Beginning of placing children into foster homes

–         English Poor Laws in the 1500s allowed poor children to be placed into indentured service until they became adults. The practice was brought to the U.S. and children were placed into the homes because their parents were deceased.

  1. 1636: First foster child in U.S.

–         Less than thirty years after the founding of the Jamestown Colony, the United States had its first foster child, Benjamin Eaton, who was seven years old.

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  1. 1853: Children’s Aid Society

–         The secretary of the New York Children’s Aid Society Charles Loring Brace is marked as being the creator of the formal family-foster-care movement. Family foster care started as an attempt to rescue kids whose parents were insufficient. He transported needy children and those without homes to large cities in rural areas where they were moved to homes of farms who cared for them and they would work in exchange.

  1. 1860: Placement of dependent children established

–         The two principles governing the placement of children were firmly established. They were mainly free foster care and a preference for care within a family setting.

  1. 1865: Paying foster families

–         In Massachusetts, families who provided care for children began receiving income for children for the first time.

  1. 1889: “Children’s Charter passed

–         This was the first act of parliament for the prevention of cruelty to children. For the first time, it allowed the state to step in in regard to relations between parents and children. Authorities were allowed to arrest anyone they found treating a child poorly and enter a home if they thought a child was at risk.

  1. 1894: “Children’s Charter amended and extended

–         Children became allowed to give court evidence, mental cruelty was recognized, and it became wrong to turn away a sick child who needed medical help.

  1. Late 1800s: New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children established

–         It was established to address the problems of both poor children on the streets in cities and cases of harsh child abuse or maltreatment.

  1. 1908: Children’s Act 1908

–         This act established juvenile courts and began the registration of foster parents.

  1. 1909: White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children

–         Charles Birtwell, director of the Boston Children’s Aid Society, had his vision of foster care as a temporary service come true when he went to the first White House Conference on Children. They declared every child deserves a “secure and loving home.

  1. 1912: U.S Children’s Bureau created

–         It is the first department of the federal government devoted to the welfare of children. It remains the key federal unit in overlooking the administration of federal child welfare funds and issuing policies.

  1. August 14, 1935: Social Security Act enacted

–         The enactment of the Social Security Act included small funds under Title V for child welfare services.

  1. 1948: The Children Act of 1948

–         This act created a children’s committee and a children’s officer in each local authority. It was formed following the creation in 1945 of the parliamentary care of children committee, which formed after the death of 13 year old Dennis O’Neill by his foster parents.

  1. October 1, 1960: Publication of Children in Need of Parents

–         This book was published by Mass and Engler, and it exposed that plenty of children would not be adopted, return home, and were fated to grow up in the foster care system. The study believed that foster care was a “holding tank for many children.

  1. 1961: Title IV-A

–         Legislation provided for maintenance payments for foster care under the Aid to Dependent Children Program under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act.

  1. 1968: Subsidized adoption

–         New York became the first state to legislate adoption subsidies for kids adopted from foster care.

  1. January 31, 1974: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

–         CAPTA offers funding to states for the abuse of children and neglect prevention, identification, prosecution, and treatment activities.

  1. January 4, 1975: Title XX

–         Title XX provided funds to states for different social services, which includes child welfare. This allowed states to get more power in creating priorities for services that aimed at meeting one out of five federally mandated service goals.

  1. 1977: Smith v. Offer

–         In Smith v. Offer, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that foster parents were not permitted to the same constitutional rights as other parents. Since states licensed, created, and gave them money, foster families could not disagree with children’s removal or expect them to stay, like birth families could.

  1. 1980: Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program

–         This program provides funds to states for the board and care and the price of administration of out-of-home care of children detached from families considered unwilling or incapable of caring for them and subsidy payments to the parents of children adopted from state-supervised out-of-home care.

  1. June 17, 1980: The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

–         Current goals and administrative framework for child-welfare and family-foster-care services were put in place. Congress sought to raise public concern on the price of admission and discharge of children from foster care. They also debated more such as unnecessary removal of children from foster care and the huge number of children who moved home to home.

  1. 1986: Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

–         Under this program, funds were given to the states to help older foster youths make a transition from foster care to living on their own.

  1. November 19, 1997: The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

–         The law created timelines for transferring kids to permanency, delivered adoption bonuses for states, and continued the child welfare waiver demonstrations. It expanded the use of funds to two more categories: adoption promotion and support services and time-limited reunification services.

  1. 1988: First National Foster Care Month

–         The National Foster Parent Association convinced Senator Strom Thurmond to proclaim May as National Foster Care Month. President George H.W. Bush issued a yearly proclamation during each year he was president that provided an impetus for State, county, and city proclamations.

  1. 1995: AFCARS begins implementation

–         AFCARS, Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, began in 1995. The Children’s Bureau created the AFCARS Assessment Review process to make sure accuracy and reliability of the foster care and adoption data were in place.

  1. December 14, 1999: The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999

–         The act aims to help youth in the United States aging out of foster care. It helps them obtain and uphold independent living skills. It provided increased funding and flexibility for States and Tribes to help youth in a variety of ways.

  1. January 17, 2002: The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001

–         This provided new authority to care for programs that mentor children of incarcerated parents. It also delivered educational and training vouchers for individuals aging out of foster care.

  1. November 22, 2005: Fair Access Foster Care Act of 2005

–         This was amended part E of Title-IV of the Social Security Act. It allowed payments for foster care maintenance to be paid on behalf of children that qualify through a nonprofit or for-profit child-placement or child care agencies.

  1. October 7, 2008: Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

–         It amended the Social Security Act to help better outcomes for children in foster care. It enhanced services for the youths aging out of care and created new programs to help individuals in or about to enter foster care to reconnect with their family.

  1. May 2, 2012: National Foster Care Month

–         President Barack Obama proclaimed May 2012 as National Foster Care Month. He encouraged all Americans to observe that month by trying to help youth in foster care.

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Chronology Of Foster Care System Development. (2020, Jan 08). Retrieved from