Risk, reform, and vocation in the Illinois child welfare system
Kilroy, Joshua Lawrence
Faubion, James D.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation examines changes in the mode of governance in the contemporary United States using societal responses to child abuse as an example. The phrase "child abuse" is only forty years old yet it has become the center of large public bureaucracies in every state. The history of the child welfare is reviewed with particular attention to the increased legal protection for abused and neglected children and how these rights reorganized the responsibilities of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The ethnographic section details the crisis in the Illinois child welfare system after the death of a three-year old child in 1993. The creation of an Inspector General's Office is documented and several of their reform initiatives are considered in some detail, including the development of a Code of Ethics and the use of mediation in servicing families. One conclusion is that traditional agency-based services are being displaced by services offered within networks of providers. These network structures are built around a specific subject, the "child at risk." The implications of these developments for modes of governance in contemporary society are examined.
Cultural anthropology; Political science; Public administration; Sociology; Public & social welfare