Sample Essay on Child Welfare and the Family Systems Theory

Child Welfare and the Family Systems Theory


Racial discrepancy represents a crucial difficulty that the child welfare system is encountering. Though studies establish that there are no dissimilarities in the occurrences of child mistreatment and neglect in accordance with racial group, the people of color have a higher likelihood when judged against the white individual under comparable conditions to have cases of child neglect and abuse and result in children being removed from home. Increased degrees of poverty amid children of color worsen this tendency. In this regard, the children of color, approximately thirty-three percent of the population of children in the United States, make up more than fifty-five percent of the children in foster care establishments. Equally troubling, regardless of the situational relationships, the children of color encounter varying cases of mistreatment at crucial instances in the child welfare scheme. Poverty, in addition to poverty-associated difficulties, structural inequity, and racially unfair making of decisions are aspects that have led to the unbalanced representation of the kids of color in the child welfare. Although children from the majority of low-income parents do not face abuse, they have a higher possibility of getting in the welfare system, normally because of neglect, when compared to children from high-income parents. Offering sufficient care and direction for children while residing within the limitations linked to heightened poverty is exceedingly challenging.

In their article, Miller, Cahn, Anderson-Nathe, Cause, and Bender (2013) affirm that the aspects resulting in witnessed racial inequality in child welfare systems have formed discussions for a long time. The quantitative nature of the article made it easy to understand the logical arguments presented. The study employed focus groups to involve child welfare and cooperating system decision makers, society allies, and family members in a subjective interpretive approach of racial inequality that had been illustrated by an earlier quantitative examination. Thematic approach produced 11 subjects from the focus groups, and 4 centered on personal and structural unfairness. To enhance the significance of the study, the participants offered recommendations to boost results for children of color in view of observations such as enhanced understanding of prejudice, creation of excellent means of decision-making, the engagement of racially diverse consultants, and facilitated financing of training.

In his study, Lee (2015) stated that domestic violence is a frequently happening setback with respect to child welfare concerns, and, because of feministic studies, as well as activism, it is debatably deemed more seriously presently when judged against any period some time ago. The article dwells more on the problem devoid of recommending a way out. The author affirms that regardless of the impact of feminist comprehensions of and resolutions to family violence in child welfare interests, the commonest means of handling such happenings is difficult for the underprivileged women of color that denote the major clients of the child welfare schemes. Such women have a likelihood of being blamed for aggression and are susceptible to loosing child custody, while their independence is restricted by a comprehensive approach to their instances. This occurrence is to some extent because of mind-sets regarding family violence and stereotypes of underprivileged women of color that place the culpability on women and make them nearly exclusively responsible for the harm that the children encounter attributable to violence. Nonetheless, it is also caused by the formation of the child welfare scheme with its barely identified directive and existing suppositions regarding the dominance of mothers in caring for the children, the interests of the children, and the frequently employed parent-as-difficulty advance to the comprehension of mistreatment and risk. This creates uncertainties concerning the benefit of the offered interventions in curbing family violence.

Lee, Benson, Klein, and Franke (2015) sought to understand the risk factors and abuse in child welfare systems amid a population-anchored group of parents with disabilities. Resorting to a generally-representative, population-founded information that oversampled the individuals of color, income-regulated ratio evaluations was carried out to determine population dissimilarities amid parents with and with no restrictions in their daily activities. The results of the study were reliable as they determined that parents with disabilities have a higher likelihood of facing more risk factors linked to child abuse as compared to parents with no disability. This encompasses observing interpersonal aggression as a child, encountering neglect, hostility, living under foster care in their childhood, mood and drug abuse problems, and taking part in or facing interpersonal violent behavior in adulthood. After the consideration of income, the study found parents with disabilities were more than twice probable of taking part in aggression against their children. Parents with disabilities that took part in aggression against their children were found to have a higher level of child abuse risk factors when judged against the ones that did not take part, especially experiences of abuse in their childhood, observing interpersonal violence as children, living in foster care, and having interpersonal hostility in their adulthood. The findings of the article underscore the necessity for child welfare systems to enhance their disability skills in assisting the parents and children with disabilities.

In their research concerning Norwegian child welfare clients, Staer and Bjørknes (2015) evaluated the degree with which racial inequalities in engagement with the child welfare system could be associated with racial dissimilarities in sociodemographic setting. The use of complex quantitative analysis in the study made it difficult for a layperson to understand. Through the application of logistic regression models and an exceptional dataset generated through associating child welfare documentations to public administrative files for the 1993 and 1994 birth groups, the authors calculated racial inequalities in child welfare system for children between 6 and 12 years of age. When judged against racial Norwegian group, non-Western kids had double the likelihood of going to a child welfare system. Nevertheless, the data as well established marked racial inequalities in 8 sociodemographic links of child welfare engagement. The results of the study show that the connection involving race and child welfare engagement is baffled by dissimilarities in socioeconomic position, maternal social support, size of the family, and family arrangement.

Theoretical Orientations

Both attachment theory and family systems theory have the ability to enlighten of therapeutic task designed to involve children and families where childhood behavioral interests denote a considerable difficulty (O’Gorman, 2012). The two theories, especially the family systems theory, establish a position that issues of child welfare are well comprehended if therapists question the excellence of the caregiver; that is, child attachment. Many health professionals, particularly the child and family therapists, are conversant with referrals entailing children that have been recognized as demonstrating behavioral interests of a number of descriptions. The significance of the study is demonstrated by its exceptional recommendation and clarity concerning the understanding of childhood behavioral problems assisted by knowledge of the theories that when both are employed, they enhance the significance of each other. Parents might fail to perceive the significance of their childhood encounters on their present parenting interrelations and the ones that could have been deemed by their families as well-mannered might consider their involvement in therapy strange and disturbing. Tackling the issue of child welfare from a position that disregards the symptoms of the child in a manner that poses inconsiderable significance on the excellence of the parent-child relationship, issues in the family, or other possible influences could result in the child being charged with the overpowering and impracticable role of acting as the cause and upholder of change. Equally, therapists who limit their awareness of epistemological position could be detached from their practice to actually interrelate with the families that have no experiences of behavioral interests.

Paley, Lester, and Mogil (2013) establish that prolonged military attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq placed insurmountable demands on the US soldiers, and consequently, the families of the combatants experienced deployments in more hurried sequences than any other time before. In the military parents’ fulfillment of their tasks in the battleground, their children and families encounter countless challenges, encompassing prolonged separations, distractions in the family structures, and possibly compromised parenting associated with distressing experience and consequent mental health disorders. Such problems could start to impart a significant toll on the concerns of the parents, children, and the interrelations within the families. To react more efficiently to the requirements of military families, it is crucial that mental health professionals have a detailed comprehension of the difficulties encountered by the families in the course of the deployment periods and the manner in which the problems could pose a cumulative effect. Additionally, the study makes beneficial contributions to overcoming the problem by affirming that mental health professionals ought to be superbly prepared to assist parents engaged in demanding tasks way from their family members, especially military operations. The article evidently illustrates the way family systems and environmental factors influence relationships in families and the manner in which such experiences influence the interests and connections of families at the personal, dyadic, and entire family level.

The family systems theory is anchored in the supposition that all sections of an arrangement are interlinked with one another, and a true comprehension cannot be achieved by tackling the sections separately (Karakurt & Silver, 2014). In cases where a parent carries out sexual abuse against his daughter, it destroys the child’s lifetime capacity to develop trusting, intimate connections; that is, sexually abused children experience great matrimonial and sexual challenges in their adulthood. In this regard, the authors sought to comprehend the influence of sexual abuse on the children’s later life. The application of family systems theory assists therapists comprehend the family background where sexual abuse happened and the manner in which it impacted the health and relationships all through one’s life. The significance of the article is enhanced with the use of case studies with perceptivity from the connection of family systems and attachment theories. A sense of interpersonal security, developed through the backing of adults to children, a caring relationship, and the confidence in a therapist, are vital for both the willingness to open about the abuse and successful treatment. For effective treatment, therapists have to sufficiently tackle attachment interrelations before and after the abuse, with the consideration of the present romantic relationship, with the purpose of suitably changing the internal functioning model.

Effectiveness of the Evidenced-Based Practices Used to Address the Problem

There are insufficient studies regarding the manner in which the understanding, approaches, and conducts of the public personnel in child welfare systems sway execution of evidence-based practice (EBP) since the majority of the researchers have concentrated on the nonpublic staff. In what appears to be bridging the gap, Whitaker, Rogers-Brown, Cowart-Osborne, Self-Brown, and Lutzker (2015) shed light on the understanding and performance of public child welfare personnel employing evidence-based practice. A broad sample of 122 participants was used to evaluate the knowledge, expertise, hindrances, and practices of the public child welfare personnel. The understanding and expertise of the staff with evidence-based practice were low, particularly amid front line employees. Attitudes concerning the application of evidence-based practice were positive though to some extent lesser when judged against the attitudes toward a typical, non-evidence-based plan. The front line personnel had a less likelihood of making referrals (15%) when compared to other employees (46%). The rank of an employee had inconsequential impact on the understanding, referrals, or expertise. The greatest factors of the making of referrals were knowledge of evidence-based practice and job position.

Children engaged in the child welfare systems experience elevated levels of persistent and increasing interpersonal distress and difficulty, denoted as complex trauma, which could have an extremely negative influence on the interests of children throughout their lifespan (Fraser et al., 2014). Child welfare personnel encounter a range of difficulties in satisfying the requirements of children that have developed distress. In this article, the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project (MCTP) was established as a nationwide initiative to facilitate the ability of child welfare personnel and mental health professionals in the identification, response, and intervention that is timely and effective to children distressed by death of parents, abuse, family violence, and neglect. Particularly, the large-scale multi-system development endeavor is steering practice modification through major methods in every region. The major mechanisms encompass the training of the personnel and parents to identify and address child distress, dissemination of trauma-associated evidence-based treatments in mental health programs through groups of extensive learning partners, and the execution of child welfare-linked teams that assemble mental health professionals, child welfare personnel, and clients to sustain endeavors to realize, sustain, and extend trauma-knowledgeable practices.

Childhood distress represents a rising public health problem (Kramer et al., 2015). Posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as other associated symptoms, denotes the main risk aspects for home and child welfare system distractions, venturing into restraining backgrounds, and prolonged stays in welfare systems and these are linked to poor child results. Most children either fail to obtain treatment or get treatment which has not been confirmed to be successful for their symptoms. Additionally, facts show that children may be distressed by the systems that are meant to assist them. Regardless of the confirmation associating mistreatment and distressing occurrences to social, emotional, mental, and cognitive damage, the majority of children do not obtain successful services. The authors managed to excellently depict a national inventiveness to boost system-wide receptiveness to children experiencing trauma. Constituents of the plan encompassed the training of mental health professionals in trauma-centered behavioral therapy and other consultants in trauma-knowledgeable best practice. The findings from the study were that over 2,500 experts in child welfare systems took part in trauma-knowledgeable training, generating a system-wide reaction that is geared toward children undergoing trauma and is intended to enhance understanding and practice proficiencies. Over and above teamwork at different levels, numerous other facilitating aspects are significant in rising above hindrances and obtaining the support of stakeholders, encompassing attempts to realize organizational backing, application of evidence-based practices, access to evaluation materials, generation of mechanical feedback reports, technological backing, funding, facilitated training, and continued discussion.

In accordance with Misurell and Springer (2013) the American Psychological Association has bespoken the advancement and implementation of evidence-based practices that are culturally reactive to racially and socioeconomically varied groupings. The provision of culturally receptive evidence-based practices is fundamental for mental health professionals operating in ethnically and culturally varied environments and across a range of problems. For instance, child sexual abuse influences individuals from diverse settings and leads to numerous of challenges influencing children and their families. In this regard, successful tackling of child sexual abuse has to consider cultural aspects. The article depicts culturally fitting constituents of a Game-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy (GB-CBT) program for child sexual abuse, which was created within center that just had urban, poor, Latino, and African-American people. Health professionals ought to develop insight of their ethnic and cultural distinctiveness, identify personal prejudices, and deal with dissimilarities involving themselves and clients with the purpose of raising cultural capability. Finally, the most crucial suggestion is to constantly identify that multicultural skills is always a task taking place and are flaws are made, they ought to be recognized and employed as learning chances.


Fraser, J. G., Griffin, J. L., Barto, B. L., Lo, C., Wenz-Gross, M., Spinazzola, J., & Bartlett, J. D. (2014). Implementation of a workforce initiative to build trauma-informed child welfare practice and services: Findings from the Massachusetts child trauma project. Children and Youth Services Review, 44, 233-242.

Karakurt, G., & Silver, K. E. (2014). Therapy for childhood sexual abuse survivors using attachment and family systems theory orientations. The American journal of family therapy, 42(1), 79-91.

Kramer, T. L., Sigel, B. A., Conners-Burrow, N., Worley, K. B., Church, J. K., & Helpenstill, K. (2015). It takes a state: Best practices for children exposed to trauma. Best Practices in Mental Health, 11(1), 14-24.

Lee, S. Y., Benson, S. M., Klein, S. M., & Franke, T. M. (2015). Accessing quality early care and education for children in child welfare: Stakeholders’ perspectives on barriers and opportunities for interagency collaboration. Children and Youth Services Review, 55, 170-181.

Lee, T. (2015). Child welfare practice in domestic violence cases in New York City: Problems for poor women of color. Women, Gender, and Families of Color, 3(1), 58-87.

Lightfoot, E., & Slayter, E. (2014). Disentangling over-representation of parents with disabilities in the child welfare system: Exploring child maltreatment risk factors of parents with disabilities. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 283-290.

Miller, K. M., Cahn, K., Anderson-Nathe, B., Cause, A. G., & Bender, R. (2013). Individual and systemic/structural bias in child welfare decision making: Implications for children and families of color. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1634-1642.

Misurell, J. R., & Springer, C. (2013). Developing culturally responsive evidence-based practice: A game-based group therapy program for child sexual abuse (CSA). Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(1), 137-149.

O’Gorman, S. (2012). Attachment theory, family system theory, and the child presenting with significant behavioral concerns. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 31(3), 1-16.

Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family systems and ecological perspectives on the impact of deployment on military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16(3), 245-265.

Staer, T., & Bjørknes, R. (2015). Ethnic disproportionality in the child welfare system: A Norwegian national cohort study. Children and Youth Services Review, 56, 26-32.

Whitaker, D. J., Rogers-Brown, J. S., Cowart-Osborne, M., Self-Brown, S., & Lutzker, J. R. (2015). Public child welfare staff knowledge, attitudes, and referral behaviors for an evidence based parenting program. Psychosocial Intervention, 24(2