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How the Progressive Era affected Child Advocacy

child-labor-coal-mines1The Social Reform movement dubbed Progressivism sparked change in how America felt about providing “outdoor relief” for those Americans in need.  Mothers’ Pensions was the beginning of this change.  It was a modest start to reform, with few pensions granted by 1919.  This was a breakthrough in child advocacy because it addressed how many long hours widowed mothers spent away from their children when working and the increased likelihood that some of the children would be placed out of the home due to inability to care and provide for them (Jansson, B.S. (2012). The Reluctant Welfare State. Brooks Cole.

The Juvenile Court System was also established during this time.  Per Jansson, Judge Ben Lindsey, among other social reformers, felt that children should not be placed with criminals of adult age  and that the incarceration of children with adults did nothing to address underlying causes of their misconduct.  Any underlying problems within a child’s family life or school, was not receiving attention, therefore it was not being addressed (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/341932/Ben-B-Lindsey) . Due to lack of resources and adequate training in this area, the National Committee on Child Labor was created, in an effort to address these issues (http://www.nationalchildlabor.org/history.html).  This commitee’s purpose was to address concerns with child labor and its lack of regulations.  By 1912, it finally became a reality and was given a exceedingly modest budget.  Not known to embrace hot topic issues of concern, its Sheppard Towner legislation did bring much needed resources to expectant mothers and “young children” (Jansson, B.S. (2012). The Reluctant Welfare State. Brooks Cole.  This legislation had support from well known reformers such as Julia Clifford Lathrop, Grace Abbott and Jeanette Rankin.  This legislation was enacted in  an effort to reduce maternal &  infant mortality rates within our nation (http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Re-So-/Sheppard-Towner-Maternity-and-Infancy-Act) . By 1929, support for this program had declined and it ended due to this (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/laws/a/sheppard-towner.htm).  Upon looking back at our Nation’s history during this Era, one can see the progression of child advocacy efforts and like now, more efforts are needed to protect our Nation’s children.

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