Improving Child Well-Being? Restructuring Child Welfare Programs in the Liberal Welfare States


  • Maureen Baker



For over a century, the ‘liberal’ welfare states have shared ideas about social provision and faced similar socioeconomic and political pressures to restructure their social programs. This paper discusses some of the historic and current pressures on these states to develop and restructure child welfare services. I argue that international ideas about children’s rights and ‘best practices’ have always influenced the development of these programs but current restructuring is more often shaped by concerns about public spending and the role of the state in family life. Despite the potential for governments in these ‘rich’ nations to enhance the wellbeing of children, unhealthy practices are permitted to continue.

Author Biography

Maureen Baker

Maureen Baker is a professor of Sociology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She is the author or editor of numerous books and scholarly articles relating mainly to family trends, women and work and comparative family policies. Her recent books include Restructuring Family Policies: Convergences and Divergences (University of Toronto Press, 2006) and Choices and Constraints in Family Life (Oxford University Press, 2007).