What is it about?

When millions of Black migrants moved to Northern cities in the 20th century, the question of provision for their dependent and neglected children posed a dilemma for child welfare institutions. Could the tradition of foster placement serve the needs of Black children in a segregated society? Could Black welfare institutions function in the face of poverty and discrimination? The history of several Midwestern cities suggests that current-day problems have deep roots.

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Why is it important?

The question of how minority at-risk children are treated is crucially important in the search for racial equality. Issues of access to education, mental health services, and public assistance all have historical echoes in the response of Northern society to the problem of dependent children.


The puzzle of perceived human inequality begins in childhood. Society has identified the conditions that ensure child nurture, even in cases of abandonment or neglect. My personal curiosity lies in why these are not provided for all.

John Ramsbottom

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Invisible Childhoods: Dependent African American Children in the Urban Midwest, Middle West Review, January 2021, Project Muse, DOI: 10.1353/mwr.2021.0026.
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