What role can and should social work play in child welfare services? Responding to what many consider a crisis in the child welfare system, Critical Issues in Child Welfare is a comprehensive overview of the policies, programs, and practices that define the field, with an emphasis on the role of social work. Joan Shireman looks at the community context of child welfare, noting changes over time, and the role of social work in the development of services to children and families. Next, she establishes a framework for child welfare services and examines the complexities of the system and its relationships to public and voluntary agencies and the judicial system. Finally, the book surveys core services, including supportive services to families, child protection, foster care and other out-of-home care, adoption, and services to at-risk youth. Each chapter concludes with a section identifying and exploring a critical issue in child welfare services, such as family violence, permanency planning, racism in the system, child care, and the recruitment, education, and retention of child welfare workers.