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Best Interests of the Children
BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN The ethical principles of Beneficence and Non-Maleficence exist in the medical world to maximize benefit and to avoid harm to patients. It is the duty to assist persons in need, and its converse, the duty to refrain from causing harm. These same principles apply to the Best Interest standard used in the children and families dependency welfare system, to protect defenseless children from parental abandonment, neglect and abuse. Annually, nearly 700,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect. What should justify state intrusion into the privacy of family relationships? How should professionals—judges, lawyers, social workers, and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) –conduct themselves in pursuing the Best Interest of Children, who have been neglected and abused? When parents separate, which of them should have primary responsibility for the child’s care? Who is the actual “psychological” caregiver? With compassion and direct experience, the authors help readers understand the issues inherent in childcare decisions. They present a dozen Florida cases, as seen through the “Eyes of Guardians.” They conclude that “continuity of care” of the relationship with the caregiver—is one of the essentials for the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Case summaries from other states indicate that America’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has serious “systemic” problems. These authors propose realistic solutions to improve this nationwide system. This book should enlighten state legislators. It will help those planning careers as social workers. Couples wishing to adopt children will learn how the process works. Finally, if you are looking to find real works of charity, that goal can be satisfied as a Guardian ad Litem or CASA volunteer.

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