Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Social Work

Major Professor

Jane Ann Epperson


There is general agreement among persons who work with children that the quality of care which a child receives from his parents, especially his mother, in his early years is of vital importance to his future personality development. Bowlby points out that "what is believed to be essential for mental health is that the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother-substitute) in which both find satisfaction and enjoyment. This relationship is best provided through the child's own family. While it is recognized that relationships between parents and their children vary widely in quality because of the needs of the various members, in most instances even the "bad" parents provide for the child that sense of security for which there can be no substitute. Even when the basic needs of the child are not met, if he is not totally rejected by his parents "he is secure in the knowledge that there is someone to whom he is of value and who will strive, even though inadequately, to provide for him until such time as he can fend for himself." While the full meaning a child's own family may have for him cannot be discounted, there are times when placement outside the child's own home is inevitable. As it becomes necessary for a child to be separated from his parents, whether the plan for placement is made by the parents themselves or one of the child-placing agencies, the kind of placement will have far-reaching consequences for him. It is for this reason that any plan of substitute care must be used selectively for the individual child.

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