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Theses and Dissertations

Name:Bertram Loeb
Planning for Services to Children in Hillsborough County, Florida.

Human services to children has become a critical local issue in Hillsborough County, Florida, reflecting changing economic factors and social values over the post-World War II period. Planning for children's services has developed from a concern of a small group of women in the 1950's to a major question of widespread public interest. This development is detailed through an ethnohistory, relating the events since 1950 as seen through the eyes of major participants including the author. The study utilizes theoectical concepts from anthropology, women's studies, and community analysis. Beginning with the 1960's War on Poverty, local government has increased its role in planning for children's services. Increasingly effective citizens' advocacy, growing out of public awareness of a deterioration in social conditions affecting children and a declining level of federal funding, resulted in the establishment in 1989 of a local tax-supported, autonomous Children's Board. A significant factor has been the partially-successful struggle by women and minority groups to achieve greater access to economic, social, and political opportunity. A third element of importance has been the immigration of northern business executives, professionals and women accustomed to higher standards of community services. The three identified power centers--local government, business, and children's advocates--have occupied different positions over time, with consequences for planning and decision-making in children's services. Decision-making was considered along a spectrum ranging from oligarchic, elitist control to democratic, pluralist methods. While no one group serves as a power elite, decision-making has been restricted to whites of middle or upper class background. The planning methods used, although generally pluralistic in concept, have essentially served elitist purposes. Nevertheless, the community has made progress toward more open and democratic methods, both in service delivery and decision-making. These trends are borne out by the strategies adopted by the Children's Board, the Hillsborough County Needs Assessment and the Hillsborough Constituency for Children, Inc. to raise the level of services to children.