Trends in the size of the national foster care population from 1910 to 1983 are examined in the context of child welfare policy toward dependent and neglected children. Several major turning points in the child placement rate are identified, and the reasons for them are explored. The relationship between poverty and foster care placement is discussed, and it is concluded that the child placement rate is not related to the poverty rate, but rather, to how our society chooses to intervene with the children of families living in poverty.

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