that's socialism you're promoting here. And that is not the answer. It's an answer, but not the best way to go.
I don't agree. By your standard then all taxes are socialism. Everything done for the "common good" with those taxes is socialism. Roads, national defense, etc.
The definition of socialism as I understand it is:
"a theory that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole."~Dictionary.com
Socialism is about everyone being equal, no one having more than the other guy. I'm promoting the exact opposite. Tax everyone above poverty level the same percentage, and let everyone carry some of the load instead of half carrying the load and the other half sucking up their efforts.
The government doesn't have that type of local relationship with the people
If the government gave money to our churches for their food pantries so they could best deliver the food/supplies etc that would go a whole lot further than these wasteful programs that just throw money at the problem.
Actually since GW, churches CAN in fact apply for grants to help provide services to the poor. It was called Faith Based Initiatives under Bush, but Obama has made some administrative changes, as well as a name change. http://www.hhs.gov/fbci/
There are a few guidelines, mostly about the money being used to help the needy regardless of religious affiliation. And of course accountability paperwork must be filled out, filed, etc.
Lots of churches believe taking grants from the gov. equals letting the gov. in the door to micromanaging the church. I've read a lot about Faith based initiatives, volunteered at a local faith based non-profit providing free dental, medical, food pantry and clothing to the needy, which gets these grants, and the fear is unfounded.
Part of my job as a volunteer was to apply for the grants, and then keep up on paperwork for accountability. And you can rest assured it takes a full time volunteer/employee to keep up with the stewardship records (Which is a big turn off to churches because they can't find people to do it.)
But I still have to say going the government's route isn't the answer either.
The government meaning the states. The fed gov. has mandates, but mostly states are on their own. For instance, Health and Family services are run by each state, and each state has different criteria/payment amounts/stipulations/etc. For example in some states eye glasses are covered for the poor, in other states they aren't. Also welfare rates, qualifications, welfare to work program guidelines, differ from state to state.
But if that's not the answer, then what? Religion didn't work either. And families are not as geographically close now as 50 years ago, which leads to being virtual strangers outside the nuclear.
If I had a choice as a parent and everything being equal, I'd take a chance with a private religious system than a secular government system.
Really? Because that means (this being America and all) that ALL religious groups could potentially be taking care of your child. Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Wiccans, Davidians, Scientologists, etc. If a parent dies, or is unfit, who decides where to place the child? Sure you might say, well I'm a Christian, my kid would be taken care of by other Christians. But if you're unfit, you don't get to choose.
I was in a social work program (as I think you know) and 9 times out of 10 if a family member, church member, family friend stepped up and volunteered to foster a child being removed from a home, the state allowed it.
Why? It's cheaper to pay a social worker to make visits and check on the child, than to pay for the kid's food, clothing, shelter, etc. But you know what? People don't step up all the time, and for older kids, I'd go out on a limb and say "most" of the time.
For instance, would you take one of your Sunday school kids in to raise right now , today, if his parents were considered unfit and he was going to a state run group home or foster care with a family that wasn't Christian? How about more than one teen?
Foster parents are vetted, though in some states not very well (the criteria on that is also unique to each state). Which is why some states only use foster care as a last resort, instead relying on group homes that are age appropriate and run by a team of trained parents/social workers/etc.
Because the gov. can't "promote" religion I know from experience having lived in said group home, we were taken to many different religious institutions and left to decide for ourselves.
I'd much rather my child be placed in a "neutral" house where social workers come and go on a daily basis, than with a family I don't know. Foster families are NOT generally required to be as transparent as group homes. And frankly most of the "Christians" I know, I wouldn't trust to raise my child. (Not that I would get a say...)
Is there room for improvement in social programs dealing with children? HECK YES! The main reason I went into Public Administration is because I believe there are vital, necessary gov. programs essential to the health and prosperity of our country. We need fiscally conservative public administrators running them, tweaking them, looking for better ways to do things, and when appropriate, eliminating them.