History of Professionalization

Professionalizing Foster Parenting is not an original idea. We have a long history of professionalizing volunteer jobs that others do not want to do in order to keep us safe...

It always seems impossible until it’s done
— Nelson Mandela

Firefighters: By the 1850s and 1860s the reputation of volunteer firefighters hit an all time low. Amidst accusations of rioting, disorder and inefficiency the majority of volunteer firefighting forces in the United States were being replaced by professional fire departments.

 Police Officers: In the early 1900s, a broad social and political movement in America, progressivism, was bringing attention to and demanding reform across a broad spectrum of social problems. Progressives believed it was the government's responsibility to improve the living conditions of citizens. They called for the regulation of corrupt local politics, changes in labor laws and improvements across all social welfare services. Included in this larger reform effort was the professionalization of police forces. The professionalization movement sought to reform the inefficient and corrupt police agencies that had developed during the nineteenth century. During this reform era, there was a total restructuring of police departments and a redefinition of the police role due to the perceived failure of police to enforce the law (Walker, 1977).

    Our Military: Many historians point to the decades between 1820 and 1840 as the years when the army professionalized. This thesis proposes that the War of 1812 was the defining event that spurred the professionalization of the American Army. Those years, according to Army historian William A. Ganoe, were "The Army’s Dark Ages." They caused the Army and the Navy to look inward and to develop a truly professional military viewpoint.

     Social Workers: In the United States, the profession of social work originated in volunteer experiments in social betterment during the late nineteenth century. By the turn of the century, charity was rapidly becoming an occupation devoted to individual service and social action.  Social work, as the new profession came to be called, promoted the development of social welfare measures at the state and federal levels during the Progressive Era. Movements for reforming the poor, rescuing children, restoring community in large cities and restructuring state charitable and correctional agencies resulted in the creation of the profession of social work. By the 1890s, many of these organizations began to add paid staff members, reflecting the increasingly technical nature of their work.  As reformers learned more about the problems of the poor, they began to view environmental influences as significant causes of poverty.

       Our own historical facts tell us that here is America, once we come to understand that the work is increasingly too technical for volunteers and our citizens are no longer safe with undertrained and unqualified volunteers protecting us, we professionalize our human services to keep us all safe. 

       We believe our abused children deserve the same quality of care that we all enjoy.  We can facilitate true social justice by learning from our past and creating and implementing an effective professional system that stops the pain and fear and starts the healing process. This should be the only standard of care our abused children receive.