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Charitable choice policy and abused children: the benefits and harms of going beyond the public‐private dichotomy

Brian Gran (Case Western Reserve University, Department of Sociology, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 November 2003

Abstract

Charitable Choice Policy, the heart of President Bush’s Faith‐Based Initiative, is the direct government funding of religious organizations for the purpose of carrying out government programs. The Bush presidential administration has called for the application of Charitable Choice Policy to all kinds of social services. Advocates for child‐abuse victims contend that the Bush Charitable Choice Policy would further dismantle essential social services provided to abused children. Others have argued Charitable Choice Policy is unconstitutional because it crosses the boundary separating church and state. Rather than drastically altering the US social‐policy landscape, this paper demonstrates that the Bush Charitable Choice Policy already is in place for childabuse services across many of the fifty states. One reason this phenomenon is ignored is due to the reliance on the public‐private dichotomy for studying social policies and services. This paper contends that relying on the public‐private dichotomy leads researchers to overlook important configurations of actors and institutions that provide services to abused children. It offers an alternate framework to the public‐private dichotomy useful for the analysis of social policy in general and, in particular, Charitable Choice Policy affecting services to abused children. Employing a new methodological approach, fuzzy‐sets analysis, demonstrates the degree to which social services for abused children match ideal types. It suggests relationships between religious organizations and governments are essential to the provision of services to abused children in the United States. Given the direction in which the Bush Charitable Choice Policy will push social‐policy programs, scholars should ask whether abused children will be placed in circumstances that other social groups will not and why.

Keywords

Citation

Gran, B. (2003), "Charitable choice policy and abused children: the benefits and harms of going beyond the public‐private dichotomy", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 23 No. 11, pp. 80-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330310790363

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